ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The mannequin’s blank faces stare as watery reflections of passersby gleam through the window.
Steve Maize’s watercolors wander about as far from stereotypical New Mexico scenes as geography allows.
A series germinated from a trip to Venice in studies of reflection and light.
Striations through glass bisect and overlap his compositions.
Water ripples in taffeta vines beneath a rowboat.
“A lot of these windows had very high-end or edgy mannequins,” Maize said in a telephone interview from his Albuquerque home. “They were very realistic, especially with the reflections in those narrow streets.”
Maize is one of 97 artists chosen for the “Members Only” exhibition by the New Mexico Watercolor Society in the Fine Arts Gallery at Expo New Mexico.
Artists submitted nearly 200 works, including landscapes, portraits, still life, photo-realism, impressionism, abstraction and nonobjective paintings.
Award-winning juror Robin Lee Makowski made the final selection of 105. Admission is free.
A career architect and home builder, Maize retired in 1988 and devoted himself full-time to watercolor.
Self-taught, he also works as a docent at the Albuquerque Museum.
He prefers watercolor’s easy setup and portability, as well as its lack of toxicity as compared with oil.
He likes “the muted colors and the blending of color you can do,” he said. “And it’s a little more spontaneous. You have to get it right the first time.”
This marks “at least” the second time he has juried into the annual show. He began his artistic career as an award-winning photographer in Florida.
The advent of digital cameras and photo manipulation made him hungry for a more creative process. Eventually his photographs segued into paintings, birthing a new career.
“As I finished up with the photography, I used the photographs for the paintings,” he explained. His reflection series embodies both realism and surrealism. He plans to show his work in the New Mexico Arts & Crafts fair in June.
“This is what I’ve wanted to do all of my life,” he said. “Subsistence got in the way.”
He’s still working from his Venice photos.
“We’re going to Florida in two weeks,” he added. “Maybe I’ll see something in Orlando.”