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hillary with spring garden

Hillary Riggs

Riggs grew up in Mexico City, the daughter of American artists who owned a business employing craftspeople in hand-dyeing and weaving textiles and rugs. As a child she was immersed in a colorful, magical, pre-plastic world. She remembers hand-crafted dolls and tiny painted ceramic dishes, spirited local festivals, and the lively realm of ideas that flowed among her parents’ artistic and intellectual friends.

She studied art in San Miguel de Allende at the Instituto Allende, a branch of the University of Guanajuato. During that time she spent a year in Europe in an intensive, independent study of art history. But her interest has always extended to the scientific world as well; in high school, she recalls, her aspirations were almost equally divided between neurosurgery and art. Her current work reflects both the disciplined thinking of science and the passion of art.

After spending most of her first 30 years in Mexico, Riggs, her then-husband, Graham Nugent, and baby Alex moved to New Mexico in 1981 and started Sombraje, producing twig- accented panels, screens, and furniture. The highly successful and influential business established her position in the world of southwest furniture design, and also began a model of creative collaboration which she has continued throughout her career. Riggs’ team, for all forms of her work, includes woodworkers Dan Stubbs and Steve Sovelove, carver Carlos Rascon, and “right-hand person” Desideria Rascon. The artist notes that her son, Alex Nugent, periodically contributes carving skills, ideas, and inspiration.
Born: October 1951,Mexico City, Mexico
Home: Santa Fe, NM (Northern New Mexico since 1981)
Education: Greengates Academy, Raymond College (University of the Pacific), Instituto Allende (University of Guanajuato), with one year of independent study under James Pinto, Director of Instituto Allende, in New York & Europe
One son: Alex Nugent1976: Galeria la Pergola, Instituto Allende, San Miguel de Allende Mexico, two person show,
“ Visions and Vestments” with John E. Koegel
1978: Galeria la Pergola, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, one-person show
1979: Galeria Uno, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, two-person show with Cynthia Sargent

1981: Exhibit of paintings in Houston, TX
1982: Start Sombraje with husband Graham Nugent in Dixon, NM
1983: Sombraje Gallery opens in Dixon, NM
1984: Sombraje exhibits in Scottsdale and Palm Springs
1985: The Sombraje Collection, gallery for Sombraje, opens on Canyon Rd, Santa Fe, NM
1987: The Sombraje Collection, Santa Fe, NM, exhibit of collaborative Art Furniture with Peter Gould
1988: The Sombraje Collection, Santa Fe, NM, Art Furniture and oil paintings
1989: The Sombraje Collection, Santa Fe, NM “The Swimmers” series, pastel

1991: Collaboration, furniture showroom/gallery featuring Ernest Thompson Furniture, Peter Gould, Sombraje, and the collaborative art furniture of Hillary Riggs and Peter Gould opens in Santa Fe, NM
1995: Sombraje sold to Mike and Doreen Godwin, owners of Ernest Thompson Furniture;
Quimera begins producing one-of-a-kind Art Furniture, showing at Collaboration, Santa Fe, NM
1999: Quimera Gallery opens adjacent to Collaboration, Santa Fe, NM, featuring the art of Hillary Riggs,
the photographs of Mark Nohl, and the fabric art of Michael Meyer

2000: Quimera Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, one-person show, “ The Mind at Large”- Totems
2001: Quimera Gallery, The Art of Hillary Riggs, opens at 206 E Palace Ave., Santa Fe, NM
2001: Quimera Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, “The Portal Series”, one-person show, multi-media wall-sculpture
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Quimera Gallery • By Appointment • Santa Fe NM • 505.955.0998