Janet poses with her work.
Janet Maes Gagliano was not trained as an artist.
I met Janet when she was showcasing her work at the Sawmill Market before the latest shutdowns and we got to chatting.
A few things became clear pretty quickly: Janet may not have been trained as an artist, but she definitely taught herself to become one because her pictures are stunning.
Illumination and emotion are the ultimate guides for my photo opportunities. From reflections to ancient structures, landscapes to street art, flowers to shadows, I am drawn by the smallest detail and the grandest vistas when the light and my heart lead the way.
Her positivity is infectious, and it’s obvious she loves New Mexico.
“I was born and raised here in New Mexico and received my bachelor’s degree in psychology, and now I work for UNM and visit different childcare programs in the state to consult and train on best practices,” she told me. She’s also the art coordinator for all the Flying Star locations.
“I’ve always enjoyed taking photos, even when I didn’t know what I was doing. As I traveled around the state for work, I realized I could also be exploring my passion for photography, and it seems like happy coincidences keep happening that have driven my art forward.”
The Birth of an Artist
“I was doing my job and also working at Flying Star at Jaun Tabo and Montgomery. Back then, the wall was covered with magazines, but due to the cost of all the magazine subscriptions it was time for a change. I talked to the management and asked if we could try hanging a few of my photographs up, as people seemed to like them.”
Shortly thereafter she sold a few, and then in 2014 people suggested she try her hand at the Rail Yards Market. She applied, was accepted, and never looked back.
Over the next several years, Janet says she was lucky to meet people who helped her move forward by getting exposure and opportunities to do what she loves. Although, I’d argue her hard work making beautiful photos is the cause of some of that luck.
For example, in 2018 Janet was selling at the Rail Yards Market when the mayor and city planner gave presentations.
In her own words:
“The city planner and his wife came and chatted with me as I had many Rail Yards photos. He asked if I knew about the “Artist Day at the Rail Yards” event the following weekend. They were allowing a select group of artists to have access to all the buildings to capture ‘before’ images depicting the Rail Yards, before they were going to begin renovations. This was on a Sunday. He told me to submit my application online as soon as I got home.
“I was notified on Monday that I was accepted and the information meeting was on Tuesday evening. On Tuesday morning I stopped by Flying Star for coffee and the city planner and his wife were outside on the patio having breakfast! She said they were just talking about me and wondered if I had applied. I said yes and I was accepted! I was taking pictures there on Friday and Saturday! The city sponsored a display of one piece of art from each artist and from there they chose about seven pieces for purchase…one of which was mine!”
San Jose de Gracia, Las Trampas.
Here then, some highlights from an artist on the move:
2016- UK Black & White print exchange group member by invitation.
2018- Juried Artist, Contemporary Hispanic Market, Santa Fe
2018- Juried Artist, Inaugural New Mexico Artisan Market, ABQ
2018- New Mexico Artisan Market– photography category winner
2018- New Mexico Women in the Arts, Artist Registry
2018- Selected Artist, City of ABQ: Artist Days at the Rail Yards
2019- Certified New Mexico True vendor
2019- City of ABQ purchase award, Rail Yards Reflection
2019- Ghost Ranch 2020 Calendar winner, Sunrise at Chimney Rock
Feb 2021- Artist Spotlight: New Mexican Women in the Arts
2021 Ghost Ranch Calendar
The UK print exchange is pretty interesting. It happened when Janet met an artist from California who moved to Albuquerque and saw some of her work in a Satellite coffee shop. He invited her to join an exclusive club of photographers and, in her words:
“Several international photographers participate. We send prints for each person participating to the lead in Edinburgh. He then compiles a set of each print for each of us and returns them. We offer comments on each print in an online group. Once again, I certainly didn’t feel like I was qualified to participate, but decided…what the heck! It has been a wonderful experience. I am the only woman in the group.”
Rio Chama Sunrise.
Where to see Janet’s work:
“I don’t have a website,” Janet laughed. “I know I probably should, but so far things have been going well.”
Right now her work is visible at Enchanted Sugar in Cottonwood Mall, but when the state finally reopens, you’ll be able to see her at the Sawmill Market, Rail Yards Market and more.
When describing herself as an artist, Janet puts it this way:
“Illumination and emotion are the ultimate guides for my photo opportunities. From reflections to ancient structures, landscapes to street art, flowers to shadows, I am drawn by the smallest detail and the grandest vistas when the light and my heart lead the way. As a native New Mexican with many generations of ancestors to draw upon, I am drawn to images that tell a story of those who came before, those who will follow, and the surroundings that connect them. My hope is that my photographs will draw you and enchant you as well.”
As you can see from the stunning photos in this article, Janet is a treasure for New Mexico as her trained eye catches beauty everywhere, and I can’t wait until we can all be out enjoying it.