Riha Rothberg and Wayne Mikosz with
a collaborative work hanging behind
“Park View,” acrylic on canvas, collaborative
painting, by Wayne Mikosz and Riha Rothberg
“Convergence,” mixed media sculpture,
by Wayne Mikosz and Riha Rothberg
Featured artists of the month:
Wayne Mikosz and Riha Rothberg
Twofold joy in collaborative painting
Just imagine making the perfect mark on canvas, only to have someone
come along and paint right over it. Maybe it looked like a cloud
or a snake. Maybe it reflected exactly the way you felt at the moment.
Maybe it was your first attempt at anything artistic, and you and
your wife were enrolled in a collaborative painting workshop.
This winter, Placitas artists Riha Rothberg and Wayne Mikosz will
guide just such a workshop at the Art Center Design College in Albuquerque.
Both artist and non-artist (and non-artist/artist pairs) will explore
their creative potential by way of drawing and painting while sharing
interpersonal process issues that inevitably arise. John Shannon,
Organization Development Consultant and painter, was invited to
join the teaching team to help individuals move forward to freer
expression, as they tackle the “you-touched-my-side”
issues. Participants will work together first on a large-scale drawing
on paper and then move to acrylic paintings on paper and then canvas.
“It will also be an opportunity to see us demonstrate working
together, which we have had many requests for through the years,”
During over ten years of collaborative painting, Wayne and Riha
have learned that “there are no precious marks.” Riha
says, “Nothing is protected. One of us does something and
the other does something relative to that. During the process, we
quickly lose track of who did what.”
Their abstract work first came together in solo shows at the same
Santa Fe gallery in 1995. They discussed their individual styles
and somehow came up with the idea of passing a painting back and
forth, studio to studio. Then they created a sculpture entitled
“Convergence,” with plaster masks of themselves face
to face, heads filled with abstract stuff and separated by a thick
pane of glass. It symbolizes their coming together in a new way
of relating through art.
Experimental monotypes followed, which were created by working
on the printing plates at the same time. That finally led to painting
on the same canvas, at the same time. “Sometimes we would
take turns making marks,” Wayne explained. “Other times
we would work at the same time, side by side or reaching around
each other in a kind of dance. We found we were like one brain with
That first collaborative works sold and are now collected internationally.
Diane Armitage of THE Magazine wrote, “Because each of their
paintings possesses a readily perceivable coherency, the viewer
is less intrigued by the notion of who did what than by the obvious
fluency, competency, and unity achieved in each painting.”
They say that they are not thinking in mechanical terms and don’t
talk much while working, except maybe about what tools to use—brushes,
knives, hands. The abstract themes come intuitively, but often appear
as images such as kites or laundry blowing in the breeze. “We
don’t paint to a title or start with a theme,” said
Riha (or was it Wayne?).
“Abstract expressionist painting can be intimidating to a
viewer without a little coaching or a title to provide a jumping-off
point. Then if they look long enough, they can see things for themselves.”
Their paintings are vibrant and complex and tend to inspire an
emotional response from many viewers, regardless of level of sophistication.
Wayne and Riha are founding members of the annual Placitas Studio
Tour, which has introduced Placitas artists to the greater art community
and provided a network of support. Last May, the tenth anniversary
of the tour, visitors had the opportunity to meet fifty-nine artists
in their own studios and get a behind-the-gallery look at creative
spaces hidden in the hills.
They also collaborated on Lunatique, a jazz/tapas bar in Placitas,
greatly missed by locals and a growing clientele of city folks.
Riha has taken Lunatique on the road as a private chef. She also
sings, creates mosaics, does faux painting, and provides color consultations
for folks who are ready to add color to those white walls. “Artists
often work on many fronts,” she said. Wayne teaches design
and is a writer, printmaker, and residential designer. They occasionally
help each other in their individual pursuits (surprise, surprise).
Their colorful work can be seen by appointment in Placitas (call
771-1006 to arrange), the Range Café in Bernalillo, or in
Scottsdale, AZ, at Occasions by Design. Visit their website at convergencestudios-nm.com,
or the tour site at www.placitasstudiotour.com.
Workshop dates will be posted on their website.