“A Sunset Song”, oil pastel by Jennifer Cavan. (Courtesy of Jennifer Cavan)

As the clock ticks towards Thanksgiving, it must be Rio Grande time.

Approximately 150 artists will showcase their work at the 21st Annual Rio Grande Holiday Show at EXPO New Mexico on Friday November 26, Saturday November 27 and Sunday November 28.

Jennifer Cavan was “absolutely delighted with New Mexico and the scenery here”.

Beginning on Black Friday, the event features a range of handmade items including clothing, woodwork, glass art, ornaments, furniture, jewelry, pottery, and fine art. arts. The public will find shows, tastings of culinary specialties and a “creation station” for children.

Iconic on the show’s marketing materials, Jennifer Cavan’s work shines in vibrant, saturated color capturing the landscapes of New Mexico.

The Santa Fe-based artist, who describes himself as a “corporate dropout,” left a career in Chicago for the dramatic terrain of New Mexico 25 years ago.

“The Old Mission”, oil pastel by Jennifer Cavan. (Courtesy of the artist)

At first, Cavan took a more traditional path, majoring in history at Brown University before landing in Chicago developing real estate strategies for department stores.

“I worked for Sears,” she says. “It was a very white male-dominated environment. I could see there was a ceiling above me and I wouldn’t go any further.

She had visited New Mexico because her in-laws lived in Angel Fire.

“I fell in love with it,” Cavan said.

When she moved, she began to “dabble” in retablos (devotional paintings), selling them at a church fair.

“Without a Hispanic background and not knowing much about them, it just wasn’t fair,” Cavan said.

Then she tried working in oil pastels, selling three at the Angel Fire Arts & Crafts show. An oil pastel is a painting and drawing medium formed into a stick composed of pigment mixed with a binder.

Cavan liked the direct application of color without having to mix it on the palette.

She worked for six months, producing “at least 50” pieces for a Dallas show.

“I practically sold,” Cavan said. “I thought, ‘Maybe I’m on to something.’ “

Its diamond-studded skies sparkle with stars; the trees blaze red and orange, the pink clouds fly like birds in the breeze.

Today, she portrays adobes and barns in bold compositions and offbeat perspectives to create her personal take on New Mexico.

“I am absolutely delighted with New Mexico and the scenery here,” Cavan said. “I am also very interested in the construction techniques – (like) the T-structure of Española. It uses the same lintel on the doors and windows.

“I love to imagine who lives in these buildings,” she continued. “Was a son getting married and they needed to add?” “

She draws on photographs, sketches and her own memories of places discovered on the state’s secondary roads.

Oil pastel “The Grace of Vadito” by Jennifer Cavan. (Courtesy of the artist)

“I use my rose-colored glasses so my colors are very vivid,” Cavan said. “I play a bit with the perspective of the buildings. It makes viewers watch it more.

This is his first holiday show with Rio Grande Arts & Crafts.

“Finding Bright in the Night”, oil pastel by Jennifer Cavan. (Courtesy of the artist)

“Albuquerque is a very strong market for me,” Cavan said.

She traveled the country once, peddling her paintings. Today it focuses on Texas, Colorado, Arizona, California and, of course, New Mexico. Cavan is a signature member of the Oil Pastel Society of America.


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