Local artist Fitz Sargent’s work is part of the fabric of downtown Gallup. In the last five years, he’s played a fundamental role in starting three art galleries here: he helped organize the original ART123 Gallery, of which he is still a member artist, launch the Shallow Gallery (which has sense transitioned into the LOOM Indigenous Art Gallery), and, most recently, form opo Gallery, which just celebrated its 1 year anniversary in September.

In conjunction with opo’s anniversary last month, Fitz opened a solo show at the Gallery called “SILKSCREEN TOWERS”. Lucky for you, it’s on view through this month! As part of the ongoing celebration of Gallup’s newest Gallery and its latest in a series of stunning shows, we asked Fitz to reflect on his career, what keeps him in the game, and what he’s been working on recently.

The opening of SILKSCREEN TOWERS at opo Gallery.

Q: How long have you been practicing art? How did you get your start?

A: Since I can remember. My mother would send all of us out of the house with a sketch book, some pencils and watercolors. While my sisters focused on horses I was usually doing perspective drawings of buildings. For about 30 years I practiced architecture full time and then I spent 10 years teaching printing, painting, ceramics. glass work,  blacksmith and foundry work in a wonderful high school in Maine. Since I have been back in New Mexico (I grew up in Albuquerque) I have been doing a bit of everything…..but most of it 3 dimensional.

Q: What have you been exploring in your art recently?

A: I am drawn to patterns…..repetition…..5 years ago I had a show at ART123 called the Power of Repetition….1000 golf balls…10 dozen eggs….100 old sewing machines…that kind of thing has a big impact on me. I am having a show right now at opo gallery….SILKSCREEN TOWERS. These pieces are definitely about patterns and repetition and also color.

Q: What keeps you motivated as an artist?

A: I love “doing” the work. I try to choose projects that will teach me something new. I make a lot of mistakes some of which turn out to be great and from the rest I learn what not to do. When my hands are dirty and cut and bruised I know I’m working….when they are pink and soft I’m not very inspired. I do appreciate people who buy things….artists need to eat and stay warm too!

Q: What inspires you?

A: Like most of the artists I know, I like my own work when its good. When I think it’s bad I throw it out. That doesn’t mean I expect other people to like it….I get most of my encouragement from myself! As for the work of others I am inspired by serious effort, well honed skills, courage to try new things.

Q: What is your studio like?

A: My studio is full of tools….welders, grinders, saws, brushes, hammers, sanders, drills, paint, fasteners, irons, wax, glue, tape, wire, engine hoists, a machine lathe, band saw, drill press, rollers, benders, shears…..I have every tool that I ever bought or was given except a few things I have loaned that weren’t returned….and even those things find their way home sooner or later. If you use a tool of mine I will tell you, DO NOT PUT IT AWAY…IF YOU DO I MAY NEVER FIND IT AGAIN! My studio may look like chaos to you but I know where everything is and do some thorough cleaning every couple of years.

I always welcome guests and I teach welding and do workshops in batik, silkscreen, casting, you name it, on demand!

Fitz taught a Silkscreening Workshop for teens and older adults this summer thorough a US Bank grant awarded to gallupARTS.

Q: Do you have any advice for emerging artists? 

A: The day you stop “emerging” is the day you died. Everyone has some amount of talent….almost no one takes advantage of all of it!