About Those Twelve Women at Cooper’s Garage

Cooper’s Garage has been treating visitors to unusual art exhibitions  for three months now. The fourth show will present female artists from four Taos art collections.

What do these twelve women have in common? Age. They are all babies of WWII, born in the decade of international chaos and coming of age during the sixties anti-Vietnam protests and the second rise of the feminist movement. They reaped the benefits of a more accepting society when it came to educating women and giving them financial autonomy.

And Taos. All twelve women found their way to this female-friendly art community and have produced large bodies of work here in Northern New Mexico.

So, mark your calendar:

What: A pop-up exhibition in Taos NM
Where: Cooper’s Garage in Taos, 200-B Bendix Drive, Taos, off Camino del Canon West between Medio and Salazar.
When: May 11-12, noon to 5:00pm
Read more

Now, meet the twelve Taos artists whose work will be on the walls of Cooper’s Garage.

Nora Anthony in her Talpa home.

Nora Anthony was born:  1941 in New York City
She attended High School of Music and Art, Cooper Union, has participated in many shows and exhibitions and is working on a book of Haiku poetry.

On being a painter


Alexandra Benjamin in Taos. Photo by Paul O’Connor.

Alexandra Benjamin was born in 1952 in New York City. Of her studies Alexandra says, “I studied at Goddard College in Plainfield VT. I was drawn to Goddard because of their glass blowing program but ended up focusing on painting and drawing. For the requisite trimesters off campus, one term I went to Rancho Linda Vista, an art community near Oracle AZ and studied with artists Andrew Rush and Charles Littler. The next term I took classes with abstract expressionist artist Nieves Billmyer in NYC. By coincidence, all my teachers had been students of Hans Hoffman in Provincetown, Mass.”

And on how she found her way to Taos, “I first visited in 1975. I was driving to Oracle Arizona and stopped in Taos to visit my friend David Nichols who lived in Arroyo Hondo. During my visit, we went to the harvest celebration at the New Buffalo commune and to the hot springs down by the Rio Grande near where he lived. I had the impression that Taos was a beautiful, interesting and mysterious place. After college I lived in San Francisco in the 70s, Italy in the 80s until 1989 when I moved back to the states and my son was born in San Francisco. I moved to Taos in 1992 with the idea that Taos would be a wonderful place for my son to grow up.”

On her current work, “My current work is a continuation of my practice of going into my studio and experimenting with paints and seeing what evolves, a process of seeking and discovery and working to satisfy some weird inner arbiter.”

Lynda Benglis

Lynda Benglis was born in 1941 in Lake Charles LA. She began her career in the midst of the Postminimal movement, pushing the traditions of painting and sculpture into new territories. She initiated several bodies of work in the late 60s and early 70s that set the course for her subsequent practice. Her wax paintings, which began with brushed skin-like layers of pigmented beeswax and dammar resin progressed, in one series, to the use of a blowtorch as a kind of brush, manipulating colors into a marbleized surface that seemingly fought against the constraints of the lozenge-shaped Masonite panels. The impulse to see these forms flow beyond the structure of a traditional support led Benglis to embrace pigmented latex, which she began pouring directly onto the floor. The use of gravity and her body in the latex pours invoked Jackson Pollock’s process, a connection immortalized in the February 27, 1970, edition of Life magazine, which featured Benglis at work.   (Commentary from Pace Gallery, who represents Benglis.)

Benglis has worked extensively in Taos in Hank Saxe’s ceramics studio. She lives part time in Santa Fe NM.

Jane Ellen Burke

Jane Ellen Burke was born in 1945 in Oklahoma City OK, the youngest of four children. She says of the origins of her interest in art, “It was my Mother who encouraged me at an early age to draw and paint. There was always a roll of white butcher paper in our broom closet where I could go and cut off a large segment of paper and draw to my heart’s content.”

After a three-year stint on the Peace Corp in Niger, West Africa she read an advertisement from the Taos Art Association. “I sent in an application and was hired to be the first paid director of the organization.  I arrived in Taos in June of 1976. Two years later, I changed course, quit my job and decided to leave administrative work and start out on my own art career. 48 years later I am still working and have enhanced my skills with various classes in the Art Deparment of UNM Taos.  Line has always been present in my work and I continue to use it in various manners of expression. I am influenced by nature and my surroundings and have worked in a non-subjective manner often hoping to elicit an emotional response by the viewer.”

Anna Bush Crews in Taos

Anna Bush Crews was born in Taos in 1948. She says of growing up in Taos: “My parents (photographer Mildred Tolbert and poet, Judson Crews) met in Taos in the ’40s. They had many friends among the ‘Taos Moderns’ beatniks, and poets who frequented the area, and visited our home in Ranchos de Taos.  It was a time when people  just dropped in.  Some stayed for a time in the apartment attached to the old adobe on Valerio Road. We went to lots of gallery openings and there were wild parties. The artists were poor and very dedicated to their art.”

After graduating from Taos High School  in 1966, she attended UNM, spending her third year in Ecuador at the UNM Andean Study Center, and travelled in Colombia and Peru. She earned an MA in Photography at San Francisco State.

“My current work is sculptural: ceramic, wood, stone, installation, some things more progressed than others. Recent ceramic sculptures are about the landscape, made with mixed clays, textures and glaze mappings on the surface. Other current work is found object sculpture, with things from the area. I also take photographs and make videos.”

Dora Dillistone in her Taos studio

Dora Dillistone was born in 1949 in Mississippi and grew up in Texas. Dora says of her early studies: “I followed my pursuit of music at Gulf Park College for Women but switched to art when I realized I could not compose music but only interpret it. I then went to the University of Houston. I was taking a course in Art of The Southwest and decided to explore the great southwest and the indigenous cultures. This required a stop in Taos around 1974. Houston fueled my love of art and art history, but Taos has given me the outdoors and personal experience of nature in a much different way. Carl and I moved to Taos in 2009.”

Of her current work, the artist says: “I had already abandoned brushes and traditional materials but was looking for new ways to make art without ‘making art.’ The natural elements move the land in ways that the hand cannot expect or duplicate. The attempt to record an event leaves delicate and spontaneous marks fixed in time and space. For me, the real art is in the process and journey. The new pollen drawings require daily gathering of the delicate yellow pollen at the exact time of day before the wind takes it to its given purpose. This personal journey helps me produce the literal landscape as a conductor and composer.”

Lydia Garcia

Lydia Garcia was born in Taos in 1936 and died in Taos in 2023. The Taos News obituary by Robert Cafazzo says of her art:
Lydia at times used discarded materials such as the lids of tin cans and sardine cans. At one point, a local frame shop had given her a stash of discontinued corner frame samples which she utilized as a roof-like lunette at the top of her retablos. There was also painted furniture and occasionally a ‘bulto’ wood carving. Due to demand from collectors, she began making larger works such as the ‘reredo’ altar screens, examples of which you can see at the Millicent Rogers Museum and in the collection of the Harwood Museum of Art. Read entire article.

In a 2003 article for the Santa Fe New Mexican, Inez Russell Gomez wrote a story that included this quote: “I tried to do landscapes, but the angels kept sitting on the trees. That’s just one of those things. I have angels sitting all over. That’s not on my part. It just happens.”

Sandra Lerner

Sandra Lerner was born in 1941 in Philadelphia. Lerner grew up and was educated in Philadelphia, PA with parents who were both pharmacists and a grandfather who was a sculptor from Italy. She says of these two influences:

“The intersection of Science and Art is interesting to me. I was trained in medical technology before going to art school and it seemed to me, at the time, that I was engaging in activities that were polar opposites and had little in common. We tend to think of Science as factual and Art as intuitive. There is that same dichotomy when we think of science and nature, but if you look closely at nature you can observe a recurring mathematical precision in growth patterns. The novelist Vladimir Nabokov wrote, ‘there is no science without fancy and no art without facts.’

“My paintings are investigations of the natural world through pattern, repetition, and interplay of opposites. The surfaces evolve from many applications and manipulations of plaster, wax, and pigment. The resulting images are abstract in their use of space and color but have specific links to elements in the natural world.”

Annell Livingston at Winterowd Gallery

Annell Livingston was born in 1941 in Houston TX. She speaks of her studies and influences: “I first studied at the Lowell Collins Art School in Houston,  The University of Houston, in Houston,  The Glassel School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.  I studied with David Hickman, Ed Reep, Katherine Chang Liu, Polly Hammett, Patrick Palmer, M. Douglas Walton, Ruston, La., Michelle Cooke, Taos NM, Keith Crown, Taos, NM. I think the first time I visited Taos was about 1986.  It was then I said to myself, ‘I would come back and I would live in Taos.’  It is a wonderful place to work!!

“I have just had a show in Santa Fe, Winterowd Fine Arts on Canyon Road. This work has to do with color shifts. A show is a pause, and after careful thought I decided I would be working on oil with cold wax and egg tempera. Instead, I find myself working again with watercolor.”


TJ Mabrey at home in Taos

TJ Mabrey was born in 1941 in Eagle Park TX. Her studies took her to the University (BFA), Medellin School of Sculpture (4 yrs) after which she studied in Panama, Italy, Singapore, Pakistan, and Egypt. She says of finding Taos, ” In 1981, I came to Taos to visit with Nancy Pantaleoni and Steve Parks. I returned to live because of THE  GRAVY: the various living cultures, boiled down to a savory concentration of humankind which agreed with my experiences in life.”

She says of her current work in stone and paper: “There are stairs, ladders and boats. There are seed pods with nuts and bolts keeping them from opening. There are marble fish standing on their tails, coming up for air. There are ears carved on heads without eyes or a mouth. Words and phrases are sometimes scrawled across the surfaces of the stone sculptures. There have been installations of cut, folded and embossed paper that covered walls and ceiling of galleries. Framed paper art is illusive, but suggestive of…? Curiosity is a cat hard to contain!”

Marcia Oliver in her Taos studio. Photo by Kathleen Brennan

Marcia Oliver was born in 1938 on the gulf coast of Florida. She says of Taos and the work she has made here, “My graduate advisor suggested I look into Cal Arts, so while driving south from the Bay Area suddenly there it was––Cal Arts! I missed the exit because the Interstate traffic was heavy. So I continued on to New Mexico for the Wurlitzer Residency, recently awarded, thinking only a brief stay . .  . That fall of 1968, the turmoil and politics of war felt far removed from this rustic retreat that was Taos. Beautiful land was affordable; the sky and water clean and clear. It suited me. I stayed.

At present, I’m exploring how this drawing process merges with the experience of painting on the canvas. Because water dictates and is essentially the primary medium, I titled a recent body of work, The Water Drawings. While my work is non-representational, extending from roots in the New York School of Abstract Expressionism, my process is a spontaneous, random selections, within a prescribed structure.”


Mimi Chen Ting

Mimi Chen Ting was born in Shanghai in 1946 and died in San Francisco in 2022. The Taos News obituary by Ann Landi states:

Mimi Chen Ting first discovered Taos in 1988, when she and her husband, Andrew Ting, were visiting Santa Fe to indulge a mutual passion for opera. On a side trip 75 miles to the north, they visited an inn in the downtown historic district and Mimi woke up “absolutely sparkling,” as Andrew later recalled. He told her, “If this is the place for you, you’d better do something about it.” And so after breakfast the artist went to see a real-estate agent, and within two hours, found a one-room house, telling herself, “This is where I’m going to grow old.” A year later she added a studio to the property, and she and Andrew eventually bought a neighboring lot and built a larger studio and house to accommodate visits from her children and grandchildren. Mimi said she derived “continuous inspiration from the ever-changing vistas, uncompromising grandeur and spectacular weather patterns of the high desert. Read more.

Stop by Cooper’s Garage in Taos to see art by these twelve women, May 11-12, noon to 5:00pm.

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