The Liberty Gazette
May 12, 2015Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: There we were playing gypsies again, with about 24 hours to explore the town. Continuing last week’s recount of our Taos adventure, we found the area to be cute and quaintly New Mexico, but with some of the shops too commercialized for our taste. Then we stepped into a gallery to find extraordinary artwork by an inimitable artist: Charles Collins. Go ahead and Google him – he’s called a "Taos Master" and upon seeing his work we understood why.
Mike: We were first drawn by the unusual six-something-foot tall sculpture outside his gallery, wooed in by our curiosity. His beginnings as a potter, and sometimes painter have taken some turns that now include the very physical work of bronze sculpture, but his are not like anything you’ve ever seen before.
Artist Collins believes the vision for his unique work is from God, so he calls the series of sculptures the Mastermind series. What he produces is so captivating and original that the Governor of New Mexico declared a Charles Collins Day.
What we found inside were smaller sized creations of the one that bid us come. Imagine if you will three individual statue-like pieces, about a foot and a half tall, that when placed together like a puzzle create a full sculpted face of someone you’ll recognize. Each is a story, each piece, as well as the whole, a person.
His first was the face of Abraham Lincoln. Pull apart the three pieces and look first at the statue that makes up the left side of his face, turning it around to discover a Union soldier; on the right, a Confederate soldier. Turn around the middle section to reveal the maquette of Hope, the female figure that with strength and courage is the central figure keeping them together. He calls it Lincoln’s Union. In all of the Mastermind sculptures, George Washington, Shakespeare, Beethoven, DaVinci, and Christ, women are the centerpiece, symbolizing, says Collins, the ones who "hold it all together". Each sculpture, created in pieces of three, point directly to the affirmation of his faith, the Trinity of God.
Collins is not at his gallery often and we were grateful to have stumbled upon a real treat visiting with him in Taos’s off-season, when he was much more available.
Linda: We’d only taken a few hours bite into our 24 hours in Taos and already received a warm welcome from everyone we met. The striking pink and orange sunset saw shops to their close, leaving mostly restaurants the only remaining busy places.
As we meandered the sidewalks pleasant sounds reached us, audio waves coming from inside one of those restaurants. Making our way toward the comfortable harmonies, we happened upon a quartet called Screen Door Porch. Now that’s got to be the most fitting name for a group that plays "soulful Americana, roots-rock, and country blues". We found a small round table on the patio where we could watch the musicians through full-length windows, and welcomed the lovely sounds that came spilling out the open door. This was comfy, blue jeans kind of music that makes you think of lazy days gatherings of friends on the front porch, with iced tea or lemonade, a few instruments, and resulting good music.
By nightfall we’d only been in town about four hours yet we felt as though we’d experienced a full day. We’d have half the next day to explore, including the home of Kit Carson, then ride the wind surf back. Impromptu trips are my favorite.