Ren has a quiet demeanor, but is undeniably passionate about creating art and making new adventures for her and her daughter, Mazi. Her work will positively speak for itself. Her construction of side tables out of paper towel rolls and a dress made out of pop tabs will certainly make you second-guess what you are throwing away. Ren’s new collages, which she makes from old magazines, fuel my intrigue for illustrations. I can immediately be transported to an imaginary place, enjoying a picture that tells a different story to each of its viewers. Her pieces do just that — they serve as a window into another world… a world that is a little weird and very playful. When you return from that moment you can immediately appreciate the time she has devoted to each piece, the intricacy of her paper cutting and once again, that the magazine you were about to throw out has hundreds of pages of possibilities.
Live Taos: Can you explain your work?
Ren Geertsen: I do 3-D objects made of recycled materials, like my bottle-cap sphere and my pop-tab dress. Crafting, I make jewelry, barrettes and pins out of zippers and pop tabs. Magazine collages are my new thing I am into.
LT: Where are you from?
RG: I am from Salt Lake City, Utah…
Mazi: Mom, you said that so funny… Salt Lake City UTAH…
RG: Well, it’s because I’m not proud of it, but I think it’s funny.
LT: What brought you to Taos?
RG: I actually did not want to come here; I was living in Eugene (Washington) before Taos. I was pregnant with Mazi and raising my two nieces. Mazi’s dad talked me into coming to Taos, I had family, and I decided to stay since then.
LT: What keeps you here?
RG: Probably, the people that I know and experiences I have had. I’ve tried a lot of new things that I would not have in other places, like acting and dancing. It’s been a good place for me to try new things.
LT: I think there is a lot more opportunity here than people realize — and it seems more accessible, too. Where do you find inspiration?
RG: I find a lot of inspiration online, and I find inspiration in things I love in life. I like making pictures of things I love, like mustaches, bicycles, flowers, and scissors. When I am doing a piece, I look online at pictures of specific things, like a particular bird I want to draw. Then I practice drawing from different photographs I find online.
LT: What is your favorite thing you have ever created?
RG: The puzzle piece with the city scene. I found all kinds of pictures to keep adding to it, like a tiny guy holding balloons and a little hot dog stand. I kept finding things that I thought were so perfect for it. I liked all the little elements. It was for a collaborative for a collage show in Baltimore, it was 8 different artists, each did a pieces for the puzzle. I never got to see the finished puzzle.
LT: How did they find you for the show?
RG: Greg from the Coffee Spot is an artist, and he helped set up the show and asked me to do a piece.
LT: How do you deal with creative blocks?
LT: or do you have them — maybe you don’t have them?
RG: I used to go through long periods where I couldn’t do art, until I made myself do something everyday.
Starting in Feb of 2011 for 365 days, Ren made art from recycled objects, you can read about her awe-inspiring adventure at http://recyclegirl-ren.blogspot.com
Then after the blog, I couldn’t shut it off. I learned how to always want to make something. That was the goal of that whole thing, because I felt blocked creatively before I did that, but since then I have a list of things I want to do… I don’t know if I even have enough time to make all things I want to.
LT: What is the best advice you were ever given?
RG: Oh shit, I forgot about this question… let’s come back to it… actually, I don’t like advice. I especially don’t like advice when I realize they were right all along. I like to figure stuff out on my own.
LT: Do you have a favorite Taos Artist/Musician?
RG: My favorite musician is Sarah Softich, (now Sara Alexander) she taught me to play guitar. I have a fondness for her for that reason. I have wanted to play guitar my whole life and I just recently started.
As far as a local artist, I really like Greg Preisch. He works with me at the Coffee Spot. His art is weird, realistic and weird all at the same time.
Sara Alexander gives lessons in piano, guitar, fiddle, and mandolin. You can contact her at [email protected] or 218-349-1482.
LT: Favorite meal in Taos?
RG: Most things I’ve had from the Love Apple. Eating at the Love Apple, I have had things I haven’t had before. It’s all Jenni’s fault.
Mazi: It’s all Jenni’s fault.
LT: I will write that big… IT’S ALL JENNI’S FAULT! Thanks, Jenni, for making us try new things.
Jenni Ford is Ren’s girlfriend, and cooks at the Love Apple.
LT: Where can we find your work?
She also sells her altered T-Shirts at the Coffee Spot, 900 Paseo del Pueblo Norte Taos, NM 87571
LT: Can you finish this sentence for me:
I love Taos, because…