With hundreds of artworks in its permanent collection, the Museum of Encaustic Art (MoEA) is on track to fulfill its mission to grow the largest and most extensive collection of encaustic art in the country.
The brainchild of encaustic artists Douglas and Adrienne Mehrens, MoEA has a spacious facility at 632 Agua Fria Street in which artists display and sell work and students of encaustic art have the opportunity to take workshops with accomplished practitioners in the field.
“Everything has grown more than I ever thought it would,” says Douglas Mehrens, who founded the museum’s umbrella organization, the Encaustic Art Institute, in 2005 in his studio south of Santa Fe located in the village of Cerrillos.
“We have spent the last eight years acquiring art that are exemplary for being presented in a museum for the world to see,” he adds. “One by one, juried show after juried show, we have now over 300 museum-quality artworks that will strengthen the already fastest growing art medium and movement in America.”
The Museum of Encaustic Art serves several different roles. It’s an exhibition space that hosts shows and sells work created by encaustic artists worldwide. It’s also a place where artist members can display work. Two comfortable rooms are set aside for workshops geared for adults and children.
At its heart, the museum is all about educating the public about encaustic (hot wax) art. One section of the museum showcases paintings made with layers of pigmented wax that’s fused onto or burned into a substrate, such as a wood panel.
Another section focuses on pieces created by encaustic artists working with paper-lightweight tissues, Japanese silk paper, newsprint and rice paper, to name a few kinds-in diverse ways and incorporating photos in their imagery.
Encaustic mixed media works featured in a third section combine several different media together with hot wax, such as oil, cold wax, graphite and oil stick.
“Wax has a long and varied history in terms of sculpture,” explains Douglas Mehrens, who enjoys sculpting in his studio and has examples of his work displayed in a section of the museum devoted to sculpture. “Wax can be modeled, carved or cast and can be used for a variety of art objects. The wax sculptures of today are often created by encaustic/wax artists who apply wax to their sculptured pieces such as wood. Wax has been used in sculptures with clay, wood, steel, solid poured materials, molded materials, fused glass and even weavings.”
Visitors to MoEA can enjoy a tour that explains the various processes involved with creating encaustic artworks. Both Douglas and Adrienne Mehrens teach workshops and host workshops led by guest artists.
“It’s so rewarding to be at the museum and immersed in this work,” says Adrienne Mehrens, who has a degree in teaching art. “It’s such a creative environment. After spending a day in the museum, I can’t wait to get home to start working on my own pieces.”
The Mehrens say that one of the reasons encaustic art is drawing so much attention from artists is that it’s really fun and affordable to make. Museum members interested in learning more about encaustic art and how to make it can borrow books from the museum’s lending library. Membership fees start at $45.
The Museum of Encaustic Art is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, throughout the month of December. The museum is closed during January. Check out MoEA’s site at moeart.org to find out about future classes, read the winter issue of Encaustic Arts Magazine and learn about the museum’s upcoming “50 States, 200 Artists” exhibition, which is nine years in the making and opens in July 2019.