Alvin Gill-tapia is continuously in awe of the historic Pueblo and Adobe architecture that makes Santa Fe and the state of New Mexico what it is. The San Ildefonso Pueblo and Ranchos de Taos hold particular meaning for the artist, and he cites the work of American architect John Gaw Meem, known for his influential role in the creation and widespread interest in the Pueblo Revival Style, as one of his greatest inspirations. Gill-tapia says he is captivated by the almost organic feel of Santa
Fe’s architecture, discussing their “soft feel,” without “harsh, straight lines.” “It almost feels like these buildings have come from the earth itself,” says the artist.
Gill-tapia’s acrylic paintings—made with gold, silver or copper leaf—have an elegant simplicity to them, historic structures depicted in blocks of contrasting colors, and rather than being weighed down by intense detail, they seem to be liberated from it. However, the leaf he uses in his work creates an awe-inspiring vibrancy to these simple color blocks. When the light shines on the iridescent powder, it creates a marvelous shimmer, and each painting looks slightly different depending on the time of day and how the sun interacts with the piece. They truly are works of art that must be viewed in person to experience the full effect. He says that he loves studying the interplay between light and shadow, explaining both the subtle and dramatic differences depending on the time of day. Mornings are cool and soft, but his “true favorite is the late afternoon because of the
super warm, bright light...the high contrast of the brights and the darks,” he says. This is evident in works like Santa Fe Skies, copper leaf and acrylic on panel. “I chose to use copper because I feel like it really emulates the feeling of light,” he says.
While Gill-tapia typically works in a square format, since last year he has begun producing more rectangular works. For his upcoming show at Manitou Galleries’ Palace Avenue location, he will be exhibiting 10 to 12 new works in both square and rectangular formats. A centerpiece of the show is a painting of the Taos Pueblo, which the artist says he’s been asked to create for quite a while. “It’s been drawn out for a long time and I’m really excited about it,” he says.
Gill-tapia’s works will headline Manitou Galleries’ exhibition for the Spanish Colonial Arts Society’s 68th Annual Traditional Spanish Market. The show begins with an opening reception on July 26 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and runs through July 28.