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Thinking big: Santa Fe artist scales up his metal creations for Ventana Gallery show

Editor’s note: Venue Plus continues “In Case You Didn’t Know,” a weekly feature with fun tidbits about New Mexicans and their projects.

Santa Fe-based artist Cassidy Watt is gearing up for a show in August at Ventana Gallery. (Courtesy of Ethan Righter)

Cassidy Watt never backs down from a challenge.

The Santa Fe-based artist had plenty of downtime due to art shows being postponed last year. But that didn’t stop him from moving forward.

Watt moved from Madrid to Santa Fe, where he has found another round of motivation for creating art.

Many of the new pieces are on a much bigger scale.

“It’s been challenging,” he says. “Creating the new pieces has brought up some technical challenges. I’ve thought about how to make an 8-foot totem. I’ve been figuring out how to change the dimensions of something in a medium I’ve been working with for so long.”

One reason Watt is working with a bigger medium is that he’s readying a show in August at Ventana Fine Art on Canyon Road.

He will be one of two artists featured in the show.

“It’s big news for me,” he says. “I’m creating this body of work specifically for this show.”

Totems created by Cassidy Watt. (Courtesy of the artist)

Watt is known for his manipulation of metals. His process begins with an experimental phase, as the medium – aluminum, copper, steel or brass – reveals its resistance or obeisance to various applications of patina, torch or hammer. The various results can be juxtaposed into a vertical totem form to create confrontations of reaction and resolution. As totems, this stacking of texture, colors and tone invokes the complexity of emotional language.

Before the pandemic, Watt was beginning to have success at outdoor art shows.

He’s excited about his work being shown at Ventana Fine Art in Santa Fe.

“All of a sudden, people are able to see my work in person,” he says. “It’s been an amazing year of change.”

Watt is finding his bearings at his Santa Fe studio – which is bigger than the one he had in Madrid.

“Because I have more space, I have to be creative in how I utilize it,” he says.

During the pandemic, while Watt continued to create, he often wondered whether the art world would come back to life.

“I started showing people what I had done,” he says. “Now, I have goals again. With being shown on Canyon Road, there’s a new clientele that my art is reaching. It’s been a pretty amazing experience.”

While Watt continues to create his body of work, here are five things you probably didn’t know about him:

1 “In 2005, while working at a gallery in New York City, I attended Art Expo NY to scout for new artists for the gallery. There, I met an artist and gallery owner. After a long conversation, I was offered a gallery director position in his New Mexico gallery.

2 “Almost immediately after, I moved from New York to the tiny, former ghost town of Madrid.”

3 “After a couple of years running Chumani Gallery, I … opened my own gallery, Metallo, which I ran for 13 years. It became best known for the annual “mini-show,” where artists were challenged to produce small works of 2D and 3D art.”

4 “Working and surrounding myself with art on a daily basis inspired me to create my own art. My artist journey began as a jeweler. I sold my jewelry for many years before transitioning into larger-scale metal work.”

5 “In 2018, I returned to Art Expo NY, 13 years after that initial visit, this time as an artist. I showcased my newest line of work, my remnant totems, and won the Spotlight Artist Award.”

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