A VIBRANT SUMMER OF COLOR
Santa Fe art writer Jon Carver guides readers on a quick spin through the diverse spectrum of Northern New Mexico's summer art openings and events.
"WHEREAS, the quality of the air and light in Santa Fe produces vibrant colors from dawn to dusk, WHEREAS, people have traveled for centuries to experience this vibrant color... "So opens Javier M. Gonzales' recent mayoral proclamation of "Memorial Day through Labor Day 2015 as the SUMMER OF COLOR." In the vast territory of WHEREAS-ness that makes up the body of the official text. Santa Fe's new pro-art alcalde, also states that Santa Fe's "art, history and culture spawned renowned artists... before New Mexico became a state" and that "color, and the use of color, are integral to the arts that enrich our lives."
Thus, whereas the mayor has made it official, art ltd. offers a quick spin survey of the wide spectrum of events, artists and art spaces that will make up the city's Summer of Color palette. The heart of the season is the so-called Santa Fe Art Trifecta-a perfect 1O-day storm of color and culture (July 9-19) that mixes the subtle tones of internationally renowned contemporary work with the glowing hues of folk art by an unmatched panoply of artists hailing from every curved corner of the global palette. ART Santa Fe, the international art fair, the first sure summer art bet, overlaps a second, the International Folk Art Market. and both run neck-and-neck with SITE Santa Fe's 20th Anniversary Gala and stunning summer constellation of international art stars.
Besides being one of Santa Fe's most significant dealers, Charlotte Jackson also organizes ART Santa Fe, the city's international art fair, now in its 15th year. To mark the occasion, artist Takashi Inaba presents his Puzzle Project, in which shaped interlocking canvases given to different artists around the world will be reassembled to form a singular image. Running July 9-12 at the Santa Fe Convention Center, with an always-fabulous opening night gala, ART Santa Fe is a perfect prism for viewing both the Santa Fe scene and contemporary art and art collectors from across the planet. The timely focus this year is on Cuba and Latin America, with notable Miami gallerists among the 35 or so galleries participating, offering the chance to view work by artists like Costa Rican mixed-media artist Gioconda Rojas Howell, and others.
The International Folk Art Alliance sponsors its annual world market on Santa Fe's Museum Hill near the Museum of International Folk Art from June 10-12. The museum's permanent collection is fantastic, and the Hispanic Heritage Wing just opened a fascinating exhibit about cinnabar titled, just in time for summer -- "The Red that Colored the World." This year, the International Folk Art Market will feature 150 amazing artists of incredibly diverse backgrounds, from nearly 90 different nations, making it the biggest single market of its type in the world.
Rounding out this three-part harmony is SITE Santa Fe, the flagship of Santa Fe's blue-chip art world and a local, international, contemporary art exhibition space that mounts curated, themed exhibitions with auction quality art wares produced by artists experiencing various states of celebrity. On July 16, SITE will throw its 20th Anniversary Gala and Benefit Auction and on July 18th, SITE Santa Fe will open two new summer shows. The first is the second exhibition (if that's not too confusing) in the five part "20/20" series that celebrates SITE's first 20 years by re-inviting artists who have shown in the massive warehouse space in the past. Artists in this round include Janine Antoni, Stephen Petronio, Harmony Hammond, Dario Robleto, Amy Cutler, and Ann Hamilton. On the morning of the opening, the public is invited to attend a conversation between installation artist Ann Hamilton and Sylvia Wolf, Director of the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington.
As if that isn't enough. SITE's second summer exhibition, also opening on July 18, promises unsuspected possibilities In fact, that is the title of the exhibition. For" Unsuspected Possibilities," Leonardo Drew, Sarah Oppenheimer and Marie Watt will create new, SITE-specific installations that connect rhizomatically with each other. Janet Dees is the curator, and the cool-laborative concept is that the three artists' processes will inform each other throughout the phenomenological development of the work(s) in a process of discovery.
Looking beyond the Trifecta toward other vibrant undertones is “CURRENTS,” the annual international survey of digital art wonderment, with its committed focus on new media. Each iteration is a unique new media art event that draws videographers, digital mappers, and every other kind of smart-art experimenter through a worldwide submission process. This year’s edition came down on June 28, after packing in record crowds on opening night once again.
PhotoSummer is a multi-venue, multi-city series of mostly-free photography-focused art openings and events sponsored by 516 Arts and the University of New Mexico Art Museum, that takes place throughout June and July. Participating gallery spaces in Albuquerque include Richard Levy Gallery, SCA Contemporary Art, and Central Features, while the Center for Contemporary Arts and the Santa Fe University of Art and Design will host exhibitions in Santa Fe. PhotoSummer’s poly-venued centerpiece exhibition “Fraction of a Second” remains on view through August 8 and is curated by David Bram—cofounder and editor-in-chief of Fraction Magazine. Suzanne Sbarge, executive director of 516 Arts explains, “The ‘Fraction of a Second’ exhibition focuses on the in-person experience of photography, serving as a point of departure for dialogue about the nature of contemporary photography in the digital age.” She highlights Bram’s choice of work by Clare Benson, a current Fulbright Fellow conducting research at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics. Art writer and conceptural theoriest Lucy Lippard opened the PhotoSummer ceremonies with a keynote address on June 11th, and guest artist Holly Roberts offers a hands-on weekend workshop on mixed-media and photography at the UNM Art Museum from July10-12, just to pull a couple of snapshots from PhotoSummer’s album of upcoming events.
The internationally respected Tamarind Institute moved from Los Angeles to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 1970, and remains a significant presence in the world of lithography. For their upcoming exhibition “New Editions 2015” (from May 22 – August 21), Tamarind presents bold prints by Havana-born artists Enrique Martinez Celaya and Osmeivy Ortega, as well as new works by artists Hayal Pozanti, Robert Pruitt, and David Row, among numerous other projects. Also on display will be an exciting suite of 15 prints by artists from Botswana, and work by master printer Garo Antreasian, who was the first technical director of the shop when it originally opened in LA, in the golden summer of 1960.
Stepping back further in time, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum offers “New Photography Acquisitions,” featuring beautiful, rarely seen, sepia-toned images of their iconic namesake, among other subjects from the Stieglitz Circle, and “Georgia O’Keeffe: Line, Color and Composition” (from May 8 – September 13, 2015).
A rising indigenous art star and incredibly inventive potter, ceramicist Christine Nofchissey McHorse has a sensuous show of her satin black ceramic sculptures at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, called “Dark Light,” through July 31. On view through the end of 2015 is the excellent “War Department” exhibition, curated by Dr. Lara Evans, wherein objects from MoCNA’s considerable permanent collection reference native artist’s perspectives on conflicts from the local Spanish /Pueblo colonization, to Vietnam, to the militarization of the planet.
“Colors of the Southwest,” the New Mexico Museum of Art’s upfront contribution to the mayoral proclamation, consisting of pieces from the permanent collection by noted southwest modernists like Gustave Baumann, Dorothy Morang and Andrew Dasburg, to name a few, inspired by, you guessed it, Northern New Mexico’s unstoppable light and color.
Of course, once you come down from multi-museum visits and global art extravaganzas—and WHEREAS, Santa Fe has (according to the Wall Street Journal) 240 active galleries—you may want to visit a few. Purity of chroma has long been the focus of Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, sumptuously situated in Santa Fe’s splendid Railyard District. For many years the focus of the gallery has been on advancing monochrome painting in all its myriad variety, as in their recent solo show by artist Anne Appleby, who meticulously translates natural light and color into multi-panel field paintings. Appleby is potentially one of the artists included with Ed Moses in the gallery’s (somewhat secretive) Summer Group Show (July 1-31).
Through July 1, Zane Bennett Contemporary Art will be showing the potent work of Karen Yank, known primarily for her public sculpture. Pieces from her XO series in interlocking metals (the letter shapes define the basic forms) play with positive and negative spaces in profoundly abstract ways. Sadly, this will be the last show in the space as ZBCA will be closing at the end of the exhibition. After 10 years in Santa Fe, and known for a strong commitment to collaborative and philanthropic efforts, the closing of Sandy Zane’s gallery will leave a hole in the local art community. Their notable contributions to the community include The Red Dot Gallery, a project with Santa Fe Community College in which she donated her original Canyon Road location to the college’s gallery studies program, and Zane Bennett’s Kids’ Lab in which children were invited into the Railyard District gallery space to create and curate art shows of their own. 2013’s “ Native Vanguard” exhibition, with works by Frank Buffalo Hyde, Armond Lara, and Ramona Sakiestewa among others, was a recent standout for its charged atmosphere and excellent curation by Raoul Paisner. Their quality stable ranged from strong regional artists like Holly Roberts to international figures such as Mimmo Paladino.
Nearby, the spacious David Richard Gallery, with its bright midcentury modern program presents New York artist Gabriel Shuldiner, who paints it black like Mick Jagger (gloss and matte) for his exhibition of detritus driven art objects titled “postapocalypticBLACK™,” which contrasts elegantly with Stephen Westfall’s “Jewel Curtain,” a show of new, multi-hued diamond grid paintings by this seasoned geometric abstractionist, so perfect for the season. Both shows run from June 26 – August 9. If the recent Op Art wonder show, “Op Infinatum: ‘The Responsive Eye’ Fifty Years After,” co-curated with LA critic Peter Frank (through July 6) is any indicator, the summer at DRG is one full of cool and refreshing visual taste-treats.
Another must see among the Railyard galleries is TAI Modern, a gallery dedicated to Japanese bamboo art and basketry, along with other contemporary arts. You haven’t really grasped just what a basket can be until you’ve visited this space. Since 2014, when TAI Gallery merged with the contemporary gallery Eight Modern, the two spaces have combined their stables, and aesthetics, to become the new TAI Modern, continuing their commitment to both programs. Local artist Katherine Lee’s solo show “Maps, Doors and Coffins: Locating Absence,” which runs through July 5, shows this innovatively moody artist at the height of her prodigious powers. Her transition from collage paintings of hauntingly derelict spaces to installation and object making represents a breakthrough. From August 28 – October 4, Tanaka Kyokusho will present his latest works, which reflect both his training in traditional techniques of Japanese basketry along with his personal minimalist refinement of these skills.
Adding to the spectrum of Santa Fe’s summer exhibitions, the year-old Peters Projects (an offshoot of Gerald Peters Gallery and known locally as “Peter’s Pueblo” for its sheer size) will present several shows by contemporary artists in its museum-quality adobe exhibition halls, running June 12 – August 1. Chuck Connelly’s “Westward Bound” presents the artist’s colorful, enigmatic and sometimes darkly hilarious, narrative paintings: think Soutine and van Gogh with greater storytelling range. Also on display is Earth-Touching Buddha, a bronze sculpture of a standing Buddha by local Santa Fe legend and artist John Connell (1940–2009), whose praises still haven’t really been properly sung. A new book published this year by Radius Books, John Connell: Works 1965-2009, seeks to change all that. While Matt Merkel Hess, the LA-based conceptual ceramicist known for his sculptures of everyday objects brands his portion of the space with “MRKL,” the title for this exhibition of his signature “bucketry.” Who would have guessed that Duchamp’s Fountain would have brought forth this cleverly hand-crafted spin on his original joke.
A quick list of other notable summer shows with splash has to include Sarah Bienvenu’s large-scale landscape watercolors at Winterowd Fine Art on Canyon Road, and Arin Dineen’s photorealist oil paintings at Ellsworth Gallery. New paintings by Oakland-based, Chinese-born artist Hung Liu opens July 17 at Turner Carroll Gallery; this follows the recent “Glow: Excerpts from Beauty Reigns” exhibition, featuring variegated and DayGlow imagery by Fausto Fernandez, Jamie Brunson, and the late, great, Rex Ray. William Siegal Gallery opens “Elemental” on June 26 (thru July 28), an exhibition of new paintings by soulful minimalist David Ivan Clark. On June 27, 333 Montezuma Arts opened a large two-man show of expressionistic and abstract works by self-taught African American artists Thornton Dial and Lonnie Holley. Tansey Contemporary features 11 abstract color-field paintings of mestizo painter, Hilario Gutierrez in a solo show from July 10 – August 8, while “30 under 30” at the Santa Fe Community Gallery has contracted a state-wide team of curators to present work by emerging artists from throughout New Mexico. James Kelly Contemporary just closed a cool show of monoprints by SCUBA, a homegrown and Brooklyn-based collective, and environmental painter Chris Richter will show his austere and sublime abstractions derived,though one might not think so, from forms he finds in nature, at Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art from July 3 - August 1.
After you’ve run the Trifecta, it may be worth searching out some of the more obscure pop-ups and by-appointment-only spaces to further deepen your enchantment with the New Mexico scene. Coates and Roth is a swank new atelier deep in the woods of Tesuque, though just nine minutes from the Plaza. The artist-owners, Carol Coates and Thomas Roth, have both been recently picked up by galleries in town, but also have a wonderfully appointed gallery space adjoining their studios where they show their own work along with that of friends through a combination of public and private openings. Coates’ photo-derived, mixed-media light pieces are spellbinding.
The other exciting, new, love-fueled, artist couple-run venture in town is the Santa Fe Collective, a boutique-gallery-studio hybrid on Hickox Street that offers knicks, knacks, and profound paddywhacks by an eclectic and diverse variety of local art workers most of whom show regularly with galleries in and/or out of town. “Santa Fe Collective is all about excellent, affordable art, craft, and design, made by nationally exhibited artists, from the land of dirt and sky,” pronounces artist and co-owner Jennifer Joseph proudly. “And it’s a relaxed space in a cool neighborhood,” adds her ginger partner-in-art, sculptor Chris Collins.
For the really curious, go sniff around the new George R. R. Martin-backed “experience” being assembled by local, now international, artists’ collective Meow Wolf. You’ll see the billboard on your way up from the airport in Albuquerque if you look for it, and their much anticipated transformation of the former Silva Lanes Bowling Alley just off Cerrillos Road underlies, like an oil painting’s primatura, the current canvas of every local art world conversation. This run-away art collective wowed the town and beyond a few years back with their massive mixed-media, cyber-punk, space traveler installation The Due Return (2011), an alternativeraver-flavored reality that took you aboard an interstellar pirate’s sloop, run aground upon the sands of the mysterious. Filling the entire Waxman Gallery at the Center for Contemporary Arts (a former tank armory) the ship has brought in its wake nothing but fame and fortune to the youthful collective.
As you make your way upon the City Different’s highways and byways, keep an eye peeled for the city’s colorful new mayor and be sure to look out for the traveling art gallery, Axle Contemporary, based in a converted step-van and white-walled, clerestoried cube. The energy that groups like these offer is truly what keeps the current colors of the Santa Fe art scene in motion.