BELEN — When you walk into the newest fine art gallery in the Hub City, your senses come alive with colors, textures and an abundance of imagery.

Gaze Gallery, located at 210-B S. Main St. in the Trembly building, is a family affair, founded by Belen resident and artist, Linda Dugger, and her photographer daughter in-law, Stephanie Herkenhoff.

As part of the Belen Arts District, Dugger and Herkenhoff are excited not only to show their artwork at Gaze Gallery, but to be a place for others around the state to exhibit their work. Dugger said she was inspired by Judy Chicago’s decision to open the Through the Flower Art Space on Becker Avenue.

Gaze Gallery will continue as a mobile/pop-up gallery and stay involved in the Belen arts community, as well as curate and present pop-up shows to take place in the Belen Arts District.
News-Bulletin file photo

“We had talked about doing a mother-daughter business again; we had a coffee shop and gallery in Colorado,” Dugger said. “When (Chicago) did it, we thought it was the right time to do it.”

After looking at several other spaces in Belen, they found what Dugger says is the perfect spot on Main Street.

“When we first started looking three years ago, we looked at a lot of spaces, but they required a lot more work than what we could do,” she said. “This was pretty well ready to go.”

Dugger and Herkenhoff opened Gaze Gallery on July 20, the same day Chicago and her photographer husband, Donald Woodman, opened their Art Space.

“Gaze Gallery is open to new artists or artists who have more of a history — basically for anyone who is interested in showing their work,” Dugger said. “We want to bring in different artists who aren’t in the Belen Art League Gallery. They have wonderful artists, but we want to get new people in here.”

Dugger said one of the first artists who showed their work was Holly Landary, and did very well and sold some of her work.

“We want to give people a chance, and I want to show some of my own stuff,” Dugger said.

Gaze features permanent displays by Dugger, an award-winning artist, who has been producing multi-disciplinary art for more than 50 years. She produced the art for the Coors Brewing Company Christmas card for two years in a row, and she found her art being distributed worldwide. She also did a lot of mural work while living and working in Colorado

While specializing in watercolor, she also creates pen and ink as well as graphite pieces.

You will rarely see Herkenhoff without her camera on her hip. She has commissioned commercial and digitally enhanced work, landing the cover of two magazines produced in Denver.

“I grew up in San Acacia and I started taking photographs when I was a little kid,” Herkenhoff said. “I used to arrange my little play horses in different scenarios and take pictures of them. That’s how it all started.”

Her love of photographer led her to minor in photography in college.

Herkenhoff likes to work in black and white photography, capturing nudes and the human forms that have the slight echo of Degas via a camera lens. She says black and white photography better captures the composition and contrast.

“I like to photograph in natural light, and sometimes there’s more in a photograph than just an image; there’s shading and lighting,” Herkenhoff said. “If you take a picture of a leaf, it’s just a leaf. But with natural lighting on it, it can be a photograph — an image you can put on the wall.”

Herkenhoff says opening the gallery was primarily to show Dugger’s work, but believes it’s a good time for such a venture because Belen’s art community is taking off.

“I’ve shown my stuff a little bit in a few shows … but it’s been a while,” she said.

“All these nudes are primarily from up through 2003, but now I’m doing insects, hummingbirds and a lot of nature.

“I watch people who walk into the gallery, and when they come to my section, they kind of shift their eyes a little bit,” Herkenhoff said. “So it would be nice to put a little something out here that’s more versatile that I can show in different areas.”

Admitting that doing nature photography can be difficult, Herkenhoff said the photographer has to be very patient.

“Sometimes you have to be willing to just sit there and wait for the shot, and sometimes you just don’t get it,” she says. “I was out at my dad’s farm taking pictures and there was this bird and I just couldn’t get it. I will just have to go back and get it.”

Linda Dugger has been creating art for her entire life. As a recent resident, she decided to open Gaze Gallery to show her art as well as others.
Clara Garcia | News-Bulletin photos

Other permanent artists on display are Georgette Evans Grey and her transparent watercolor renditions of familiar scenery from all over New Mexico. The wood art of Phil Norton, who creates his works of art utilizing woods from all over the world and fashioning the Salt Cedar of the Bosque into heirloom quality works is also on display. Soon Gaze will have a group of glass artists joining them from Albuquerque as well as a silversmith and a bronze artist.

Gaze Gallery is partnering with BreakSpell Studio, owned by local artist Mike Moreno, to offer a variety of workshops and classes starting this weekend. Classes will include traditional mask making, an alteras workshop, painting classes, drawing classes and more classes and workshops to be announced soon. Participants in the workshops will have the opportunity to display their art at Gaze’s First-Friday Pop-Up events.

The first Friday of every month Gaze Gallery will stay open until 8 p.m. to unveil a weekend long Pop-Up Art Show, featuring a collection of artists showing art based upon a theme. The first Pop-Up Art show will be launched on Friday, Nov. 1, and the theme will be Dia De Los Muertos. The gallery is currently accepting submissions in all art mediums to be featured at the Pop-Up show.

They are also seeking live painters, spoken-word artists, performance artists, sculptors audio and video art and installation artists.

The featured artist wall at Gaze Gallery is changed out quarterly and is revealed at the First Friday artist’s receptions, which will be held on Oct. 4.

Gaze Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. They will also open by appointment at any time. For information, visit GazeGalleryNM.com, email Gaze.GalleryNM@gmail.com or call 709-4499.

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin, as well as the executive editor of El Defensor Chieftain, the News-Bulletin's sister paper in Socorro.
Clara is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.