Karen Wray Gallery Shows Art Of Northern New Mexico In Best Light

The Karen Wray Gallery is open at 1247 Central Ave., in downtown Los Alamos. Courtesy/Karen Wray Gallery

The Karen Wray Gallery is open at 1247 Central Ave., in downtown Los Alamos. Courtesy/Karen Wray Gallery

The Karen Wray Gallery is open at 1247 Central Ave., in downtown Los Alamos. Courtesy/Karen Wray Gallery

By MANDY MARKSTEINER
Los Alamos

Why do artists love light from the Northern sky?

“Northern lighting is ideal,” says local artist and gallery owner Karen Wray. “It’s a cool blue light and it doesn’t change like the southern sky.”

This week, the Karen Wray Gallery opens in a new location at 1247 Central Ave., Suite D-2, right next door to The Los Alamos Daily Post World Headquarters and near Warm Hearts Yarn and Boomerang.

For the past six months Wray has preparedfor the move by doing everything she can to make surethe light in her gallery showcases the art in the best conditions.

“North light is what artists love,” she said. “Halogen light also brings out the best colors in oil paints.”

To let natural light flood into her gallery’s 2,000-foot space, Wray installed four floor-to-ceiling windows. She also put in a track lighting system of halogen lights, and removed several walls so art lovers have enough room to stand the optimum distance in which to view paintings.

The investment in time and money is worth it, because Wray has a passion for local art, she said. Her gallery has moved locations four times over the years, but one thing always remains the same: She is completely focused on showing the art of Los Alamos and Northern New Mexico.

“It’s so beautiful here,” she said. “The drive up from Santa Fe is breathtaking. People constantly pull off the road to take pictures. Then there’s the Valles Caldera, and the ski hill, and the best sunsets in the world.

“When tourists say, ‘Oh my God, this is so beautiful,’ they can take that beauty home with them.”

Karen Wray Fine Art Gallery offers a wide varietyof reasonably priced art that captures this area.

For locals, some of the art brings up nostalgia.

“Philip Noll has a 48” by 20” photo of the Valles Caldera taken before the first fire,” Wray said. “I almost cried when I saw it, it was so beautiful. It was just so green and lush. He also has a photograph of the overlook, where the sun is setting on the rain. The lighting is so gorgeous.”

Noll’s photos are printed on metal, which means they weigh much less because they aren’t framed or covered in glass. Good news for anyone who has to transport one home.

Wray plans to do everything that she can to welcome out of state visitors. Even though she may not be open every Sunday, tourists who want to tour her gallery may call her to arrange a viewing. She will accommodate requests to open the gallery during the weekend for art collectors. Just call her at 505.660.6382.

“People want to take a piece of Los Alamos home with them,” Wray said. “Even if it’s something simple like a painting of a cholla, a prickly pear or a yucca with a shadow.”

She currently represents nine artists, including Allen Brown, Janice Parker Muir, Phillip Noll, Kate O’Donnell, Secundino Sandoval, Ruth Tatter, TK Thompson, David A. Trujillo, Kathleen Veenstra and her own work.

Wray offers weekly classes and open studio hours

Artists who want to complete their work amongst friends, can take advantage of open studio time on Fridays. Bring your own art supplies and come prepared to work alongside like-minded artists.

“Art can get pretty lonely. And it should be like that. You have to be focused and in the zone when you’re creating art,” Wray said. “Sometimes, during open painting, the room is completely silent except for the music that is playing … then someone will say something funny and we’ll all dissolve into laughter. It’s a good group. And people get a lot of painting done here.”

Karen Wray offers painting classes for adults. Some of the students in her intermediate class have been with her for years. To get a copy of the most up to date schedule, email Wray at kewray40@comcast.net.

The Karen Wray Gallery is open at 1247 Central Ave., in downtown Los Alamos. Courtesy/Karen Wray Gallery

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