the Governor's Arts Award Winners

Jim Wagner


2013 recipient, Individual Artist

In 1963, at the age of 21, Jim Wagner moved to Taos with one goal in mind — to become an artist. "Within a few years, Wagner himself was one of the leaders of a new breed of Taos artists, infected by the free-wheeling spirit of the times, searching singular modes of expression and social relevance," said Stephen Parks of Parks Gallery in Taos. "More than 50 years later, he's regarded by many of his peers as the honored elder among Taos artists." The beauty of Taos has been the subject of most of Wagner's paintings. He captures the mountains, sky, and adobe architecture with touches of earlier times, such as clothes hanging on a line, chicken scratching in a yard, or a well house out back. Wagner is also famed for his furniture, which he began designing and constructing in the 1980s. His chairs and chests (trasteros) are inspired by the distinctive Taos furniture of the late 18th and 19th century and embellished with brightly painted motifs. Wagner is the subject of a book, "Jim Wagner: An American Artist" and hundreds of articles. The Harwood Museum in Taos is set to feature a major retrospective of Wagner's work this year. In 1984, Wagner and a friend established Muebles, a program which educates and encourages former convicts and at-risk youth to follow a positive path in furniture-making and decoration. Muebles has been featured in New York Magazine and in a cover story in New Mexico Magazine.