When it comes to southwest style, Taos is hard to beat. We’re looking for the unique, the unusual, something to reflect our state of mind, our very being. This is not always easy to express with clothing, particularly clothing that is mass-produced and available to everyone. If Taos is anything, it is unique and so are its shops, designers and artists. They make up an integral part of its rich artistic, cultural vitality and diversity.
Recently I discovered a fantastic little fashion shop located in Taos: Artemisia Gallery, one-of-a-kind artwear and accessories. It starts with Artemisia owner Annette Randell's own line of wearable art garments under her label Artemisia Artwear and you will also find the works of many other fabric artists, jewelers, and fine craft artisans. Silk, velvet, leather bags, jewelry and much more are all available from Artemisia.
Randell took a few minutes recently to share a little more information on her shop with us, her work and her designs, as well as those of the artists she carries.
SWF – Annette, you began with incorporating Native American designs into your work, was this something that always interested you or did it spring from your move to Taos?
AR – I had always been strongly attracted to Southwestern and Native American designs. That was before I moved to Taos. First I had business connections here in the Southwest, also in Taos, to sell my art to wear garments to _ and then, on one trip out west, I realized that I really wanted to live in Taos _ and thus I moved here in 1998 _ and opened Artemisia in 2002. As I am writing : today is our 10 year anniversary! Btw: My "Taos Medicine Woman Coat", suede applique patches with Native American images on black velvet, won me a national finalist award by Niche Magazine.
SWF - Are all of the designs in your shop your own? If not, are the other designers local to Taos? What are your criteria for other lines carried by your shop?
AR – I used to carry a larger amount of my own designs in the shop than now: in this economy, it's hard to pay employees, so I'm personally in the shop most of the time, which doesn't leave me much time for studio work. To run the business , including the web site, is also very time demanding. but I feel like I have new energies now to go back into creating my own designs later in spring.
I try real hard to showcase local designers, but I go nationwide to collect and buy the finest I can find in quality Artwear that suits our shop.
As far as local, if we count Santa Fe and Albuquerque as local extensions, then all our weavers, Barbara Ehrlich, Nancy Paap, The Nilssen Weavers, and Lore Wills, are local. In jewelry, Tana Acton and Joan Babcock are local.
The criteria to carry other artists work is: excellence in design and execution, uniqueness that appeals to me, and an overall "wearability" that makes it attractive to potential buyers – nothing too "frou frou", or too fussy.
SWF – Who will your designs appeal to?
AR – Our customers are the discerning fiber art lovers, between age 40 and 70. They come from all across the nation, as by now Artemisia is a destination point, and we enjoy excellent relations with our solid return customers. They do want color _ that is what we sell best. But I pay attention that garments are not over the top too "wild" in color, but still balanced and harmonious. I think being European had a strong influence on my sense of color and style.
SWF – Are all of the pieces you carry one of a kind?
AR – Not really, not anymore. The economy has dictated that we also carry some mass produced items, but we wouldn't have them if they didn't appeal to me, or if I didn't think they'd fit in with Artemisia's offering. Most items we carry these days are from very small design studios, they change their styles every season, limited availability, but people can reorder a certain style they saw, etc..
The true one-of-a-kind artists remaining are: Nancy Paap (weaver), Maggy Pavlou (hand-felted garments), Joan Babcock (beaded jewelry). and then me, when I’m starting up my own designs again . . . ♥
Let’s hope that is soon for Randell, for based on what we’ve seen, she is an extremely talented lady who knows exactly what her customers love to wear.
Shop ARTEMISIA at 117B Bent Street,Taos, NM 87571 or online at www.artemisiataos.com and be sure to look for the Spring/Summer 2012 pieces!
Find ARTEMISIA on Facebook