Rachel Brown

Grief and change.

February 16th I was in Taos and made a little pilgrimage to the closed and empty gallery. It remains difficult and sad: the closing of the gallery space, the loss of a contemporary tapestry gallery of which there isn't another, the loss of income in the process, and the manner in which the gallery was closed.

I feel more grief about this than perhaps I should.  After all, it meant I got part of a body of work returned to me from which I can build a complete set of pieces to approach another gallery. There will be new opportunities, of that I am sure. I think I miss the idea of Weaving Southwest... of the vibrant idea that Rachel Brown had about art and craft in northern New Mexico and I feel all of that is gone with the closing of the last remnants of her work... and with her death.

I found out yesterday that a friend of mine from years ago in another city was diagnosed with severe breast cancer last week--so bad that she had surgery immediately upon diagnosis and is already on chemotherapy. She is in her mid-thirties and has little kids. She is an OT and a physician. She is a vibrant and amazing woman. She may die from this. Life is unpredictable and news like this reminds me again to live a life of gratitude and compassion.

The closing of a gallery is a small blip in the scheme of a life. And an empty space invites new breath and new ideas. I hope as I move forward I can remember this each day.


Keep weaving.

Rachel Brown's legacy

Rachel Brown died January 31, 2012 in Taos. I think, as Kathy Spoering talked about in her recent blog post, that there is a little bit of Rachel in many of us. I last saw Rachel at her retrospective show at Weaving Southwest in 2009. I remember visiting Weaving Southwest shortly after I learned what contemporary tapestry weaving was probably in the late 90s. I made frequent trips to Taos to visit Rachel's gallery over the years and was introduced to my favorite four tapestry artists, the ones who made me want to work in this medium. There have been many inspirational tapestry weavers in my life since, but the first four were Rachel Brown, James KoehlerRebecca Bluestone, and Karen Benjamin. The first two are now gone.

Rachel's story is an amazing one and I only know bits and pieces of it. You can read some of it online. And recently I picked up Three Weavers by Joan Potter Loveless again. It is the story of three friends, Joan Loveless, Kristina Wilson, and Rachel Brown who transformed the face of tapestry weaving in northern New Mexico in the last half of the 20th century. The story is a good one and I encourage anyone interested in art in New Mexico or weaving in general to read it.

Rachel Brown
Crossing Over, 58 x 58 inches

Rachel Brown, Mirage

Rachel Brown, Seven Samurai

Rachel's book, The Weaving, Spinning, and Dyeing Book, first published in 1978 is still available today. It is an outstanding reference.

Rachel's gallery, Weaving Southwest, closed its brick and mortar gallery space the same week Rachel passed away. Two great traditions left us on virtually the same day.

Here are a few links about Rachel and Weaving Southwest:
Weaving Southwest's gallery website: http://www.weavingsouthwest.com/
A story about Teresa Loveless and her grandmother Rachel Brown: http://taos.org/women/profiles-artists?/item/52/Teresa-Loveless-Weaver-Gallery-Owner

Rachel's retrospective show in her old gallery space, Oct. 3, 2009

James Koehler and Rachel Brown at her retrospective show in Taos, 2009