Cypher Space - the Museum of Art Blog

Deserving of an Encore - 5/15/2015

“There is the satisfaction of providing your public with a vision of true beautology, true stylisity, - how can I put it? - true glamorositude. Well done, Martha.”
-Miss Piggy, Muppet and Martha Landry fan.

Over her long career in the arts, Martha Landry has worked with some show biz greats. Back East - The Muppets, including: Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog and Fonzie Bear. Here in Santa Fe - Martha has set the stage for Freckles, Warts, Miguelito and the other Gustave Baumann Marionettes, who perform at the New Mexico Museum of Art Annual Holiday Open House.

As manager of the St. Francis Auditorium and organizer of public programs, Martha has assisted scores of musicians who have hit high notes during performances there, plus countless couples who have married or celebrated their anniversaries in the auditorium. After all, the St. Francis Auditorium is the “go-to venue” in Santa Fe.

On May 20th, after more than twenty years with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, Martha will retire from her post. In addition to operating the facility, Martha’s duties have included maintaining the integrity of a cherished historical landmark that’s an integral component of the downtown landscape.

As the late professor Carl Sheppard, an art historian, wrote in The Saint Francis Murals of Santa Fe:

“The Saint Francis Auditorium in the Museum of Fine Arts of New Mexico encloses the most imposing and romantic public space in the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is a handsome, ample room with a rear balcony and a choir-like projection so that one is inevitably reminded of Hispanic church architecture of the seventeenth century.

“The quiet obscurity of the interior is evocative of the past: of Pueblo Indians, of dusty trails for conquest and conversion, of flags and kings and empire.”

While seated in the auditorium for a lecture, a concert or the Holiday Open House, the auditorium’s ambiance is so imposing that a visitor can imagine setting out for king and country on the Camino Real headed toward the interior along with the other colonialists who arrived some four-hundred years ago.

A native of Aspen, Colorado, Martha first visited Santa Fe with her mother after she graduated from Aspen High School. Martha then headed east, enrolling in Goddard College in Vermont, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at New York University. Afterword, she spent several years in the Big Apple, working for the Muppets, where she met Miss Piggy, and she worked for CBS News.

“I was there in the seventies and early eighties. It was a tough city. Dangerous and dirty and dark. I loved it. I had a great apartment. You’re never supposed to give up an apartment in New York,” she said with a laugh. “But I discovered that I didn’t have the temperament to be a freelancer.”

Having discovered that it was “fun to have money,” Martha, with a Kermit the Frog watch strapped to her wrist, headed west. “I didn’t necessarily want to move back to Colorado, but I wanted to be closer to my family. I worked for the Santa Fe Opera the summer before I started graduate school, so I had a real good feel for the city,” she said.

Like many who come here, she wore several hats at first. “I worked for a law firm and a landscaper. Typical Santa Fe,” she said, laughing. “After rattling around for a while, I decided I should resurrect my MFA.”

Her educational background qualified her to apply for a job listed at the time by the state personnel system as a Museum Specialist I. “It was a career strategy, a horizontal career move, going from one art to another,” she said. “It’s very rare for somebody to start a position and keep in that profession their entire working life. They go back and forth and up and down. Working in America is complicated and eclectic. You have to be flexible.”

Martha was just that: flexible and energetic. “I signed up as a volunteer for everything. I had a resume in my back pocket. I took museum study classes at the University of New Mexico.”

Over the next few years, Martha worked with the curator for contemporary art at the Museum. She worked with the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. She juried three shows: the old fashioned way, using slides, and she hung shows, three times.

When the job she currently holds opened up, Martha quickly applied. “It was the big one.” She’s has not regretted that decision. “It’s thrilling for me to be in a position where I am taking care of such an important performance space. It’s been an honor,” she said. “When my friends from New York came into the St. Francis Auditorium, their jaws would drop. I managed to come full circle, which is astonishing.”

Because of her duties and commitment to the St. Francis Auditorium, Martha has become deeply involved in the community. “Weddings are held in the auditorium, receptions in the patio. There are anniversary cocktail parties and dinners,” she said. “I also organize and run public education programs and gallery talks.”

The Museum is not the only institution that actively uses the auditorium. “We’re a lecture venue for the O’Keeffe Museum. Because their seating capacity is small, when they need a bigger venue, they come to us,” Martha said. “Las Golondrinas uses us as a downtown lecture space as well as the School of Advanced Research. We often collaborate with other museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Native Art/IAIA.”

Throughout the year, the auditorium is filled with beautiful music. The groups that perform include: The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Performance Santa Fe, Concordia Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Community Orchestra, the Youth Symphony, and the Waldorf School. “The auditorium has amazing acoustics. Musicians are thrilled when they walk in the space. It’s warm and natural because the space is filled with natural elements,” Martha said.

As the year comes to an end, El Teatro Duende begins preparations for the annual Marionette show: Holiday Party for Papa Gus. The actors are not the only ones who enjoy the preparations and rehearsals. “Every year in December I just laugh and laugh and laugh,” Martha said. Once the show opens during the annual Museum Holiday Open House, hundreds of Santa Fe families will laugh and laugh and laugh at the antics of the marionettes.

It would be impossible for a single individual to provide hands on management for every event that take place in the St. Francis Auditorium, so Martha relies on the Museum’s security staff under Security Captain Dominic Martinez. “We offer a seven day availability, twelve hours a day. Our rents are very reasonable,” Martha said. “The security staff is just crucial in representing the interests of the museum during an event like a concert or a dinner party.” The revenues generated from the auditorium’s use are earmarked for the Museum’s operating budget.

Another staffer vital to the well-being of the auditorium is Sam Rykels, the museum's Preparator, who helped Martha install LED lighting. “St. Francis is fragile. The building is one hundred years old. The original architectural intent is really important to me, but it’s a multi-use space you have to make compromises, but none that would violate the structure’s integrity,” she said. A stage has been added, but the auditorium looks much like it did when the Museum opened its doors in 1917.

The murals in the auditorium also have been maintained under the staff’s watchful eye. “The murals are not frescos. They’re canvas applied to the walls. They’ve held up marvelously. Every once in a while some conservation has to be done, but they’re in great shape,” Martha said.

In looking back at the years she’s spent at the Museum, Martha is pleased at what she’s been able to accomplish. “Managing the St. Francis Auditorium really put me in touch with the Santa Fe community. As a public service, this is just crucial to non-profits and schools to have a venue like this that’s so versatile for so many things for professionals and locals alike,” Martha said. “It really gave me an opportunity to serve Santa Fe and New Mexico.”

Take a Long Look - 5/1/2015

Gay Block
Untitled (Three Men on a Bench)
Negative 1982-85, print 2011
From the series Miami, South Beach
Pigment print
Courtesy of the artist
 
      In the age of selfies, anyone is capable of taking a quick look at themselves at any given moment, but taking a long look with an eye to growth requires effort, courage and commitment. Acclaimed Santa Fe photographer Gay Block has spent her career using her camera in what she describes as a collaborative effort between subject and artist. In the process, Block has discovered herself and learned about love while photographing a wide range of subjects, including: her mother, Houston neighbors, elderly Jews in Miami, young women in the process of discovery while camping in Maine, and ordinary people who risked their lives to save Jews in Europe during World War II.
          The highlights of Block’s journey are included in a special exhibition, To Feel Less Alone: Gay block, A Portrait, of more than forty of Block’s works from 1975 to 2012 on display through July 26 at the New Mexico Museum of Art.
           Inspired in part by Diane Arbus, who specialized in taking photographs of people on the margins of society, Block began to study photography at the at the age of thirty-one. By then, she was married and had two children, which she says was expected of her. “As a girl, I was only going to get married, which I did, at the age of nineteen.”
           Block had great teachers – Geoff Winningham, head of photography at Rice University, and Anne Wilkes Tucker, longtime Curator of Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston who also taught at the University of Houston. From the beginning, Block recalls that she knew immediately that she had a good eye even though she hid the negatives of her first series of photographs.
           Those photographs were of Block’s mother, Bertha Alyce, and all of them were photographs of her mother in the nude. “I was trying to figure her out,” Block says. “See if I could possibly learn to relate to her. She was very much a narcissist and ill-suited to be a mother.” The photographs of Bertha Alyce – and she didn’t mind having her pictures taken while nude – were eventually published in a book, Bertha Alyce: Mother exPosed. By then, Bertha Alyce had died and through her photography Block had come to terms with the complicated mother-daughter relationship.
           Block’s first photographic project involved taking photographs at Temple Beth Israel in Houston, where her family worshipped. Block was somewhat critical of the values in the affluent Jewish community where she was raised. Before snapping the shot, Block conducted a lengthy interview with each person, thus making the sitting a collaborative affair. “I loved the way people sounded when they were talking about their lives,” she says.
.
Gay Block
Jane Elyse and her daughters, Lynn and Joan, Houston
Negative 1976, print 2013
From the series Jews of Houston
Pigment print
Courtesy of the artist

           As the project proceeded, Block came to understand and like her subjects. “These people’s values were formed from anti-Semitism. They had a tough time being a success,” Block says. “I learned from them not to judge people on face value because each of us comes from a different place which governs the choices we make for our own lives.”
           Block also took photographs at the Jewish Community Center in Houston where she learned about close-knit families unlike her own. She also travelled to Miami, where she photographed elderly Jewish people, who spoke Yiddish and sang Yiddish songs while sunning themselves on the beach. Indeed, Block’s subjects loved life despite their restricted circumstances. Many survived on Social Security alone.
           Block is perhaps best known for her 1992 series Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust. Block and writer Rabbi Malka Drucker interviewed 100 Christians in Europe who risked their lives to rescue European Jews during World War II. Elderly now, the rescuers refused to call themselves heroes. They couldn’t say why they did it, and they didn’t understand why everyone didn’t do it. They did what they felt they had to do, regardless of how dangerous. They were compassionate. “They cared about humanity,” Block says.         
 
Gay Block
Helene Jacobs, Germany
Negative 1988, print 2013
From the series Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust
Pigment print
Courtesy of the artist
 
 The Rescuers exhibition traveled to 50 museums in the United States and abroad before becoming a book. One of the most important lessons Drucker and Block, partners at the time, took away from their experience was a profound belief that it doesn’t take a Hitler for people to do the right thing. “You can do what the rescuers did in your own way in your own neighborhood,” Block says. “We can make a choice: Be a perpetrator or a rescuer. We don’t have to give in to bullying, prejudice or follow the crowd in a negative way.”
           Block also compiled a study in 1981 of young women who went to camp with her daughter at Camp Pinecliffe in Maine, where Block herself had been a camper. She followed up with the same subjects 25 years later, using the camera to denote the changes in their lives as adults. Block will revisit the women again in 2016 and photograph them to note the major changes in their lives, changes that perhaps parallel the changes she’s experienced in her life as she’s followed her artistic path, enriching her own life and the lives of those who have shared her vision.

 

California Connection - 4/15/15

California and New Mexico are connected by far more than Route 66. One of the more significant links is evident in the twenty-eight works exhibited in Material Matters: Selections from the Joann and Gifford Phillips Gift. In the contemporary art world, experimentation connects artists in both states to the evolution of abstraction and the invigoration of the art scenes in California and New Mexico.
 
Back East, following World War II, abstract expressionism reigned. Indeed, New York had become the center of the art world. Out West, a creative brew was bubbling.
 
 
John D. McLaughlin, #22, 1961, oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in.
Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art. Gift of Gifford and Joann Phillips, 1980 (4570.23P)
Photograph by Blair Clark ©Stanley Gregg Cook
 
By the middle of the 20th century, California artists were creating hybrid works. These artists experimented with new visual means of expression, new materials and new formats, including acrylic paint, resin, shiny surfaces and solar burns. In other words, material matters were affecting art, according to Merry Scully, Curator. “Artists were taking chances, redefining their media, breaking ground and making works that would eventually reverberate nationally and internationally.” 
 
Two time periods are represented in this exhibit. The early work by these California based artists, emphasizing process and material creation, was created in the early 1950s to the 1970s. This work depicts the change in style from East Coast abstract expressionism towards more minimal and geometric abstraction. As a result of their work, California artists moved from the backwater to center stage, nudging New York artists to move over at least a tad. California had rightfully earned the right to shine in the international art world, also.  
 
Many of these artists had ties to New Mexico. Richard Diebenkorn, for example, attended the University of New Mexico. Lee Mullican had a place in Taos and representation at a Taos gallery. Joann and Gifford Phillips, who lived in California, actively supported the contemporary art scene in the Golden State. In the sixties, the Phillips bought a place in Santa Fe and began to live here part-time. Once they arrived, the Phillips began collecting New Mexico art, which, like some of their earlier California pieces, were gifted to the Museum.
 
These particular New Mexico works, created in the 1980s, represent the second time period in the exhibit. During this period Santa Fe became known for its contemporary artists as well as the more familiar traditional Southwest art often associated with the area. Like the art created in California during the 50s, 60s and 70s, this period denotes a seismic shift in the art scene especially in Santa Fe but also New Mexico. Both periods reinforce the notion that the West is uninhibited and creative.  
 
The artists represented in the Material Matters are: John Altoon, Greg Card, Max Cole, Richard Diebenkorn, Ynez Johnson, Matsumi Kanemitsu, Frank Lobdell, Jay McCafferty, Allan McCollum, John McLaughlin, Edward Moses, Lee Mullican, Peter Plagens, Hassel Smith, Emerson Woeffler, Tom Wudl, Garo Antreasian, Ron Cooper, Allan Graham, Richard Hogan and Eugene Newmann.
 
 
Art on the Edge, a second exhibit on display at the Museum, also highlights the experimental nature of Western artists willing to push their work to achieve an expanded point of view. Or as the late writer Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) once stated: “I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”
 
Moreover, Art on the Edge is a continuation of the nearly one-hundred-year-old tradition at the New Mexico Museum of Art, which, from its founding in 1917, opened its doors to artists and the community to showcase the arts.  
 
The seven contemporary artists in Art on the Edge were selected from three hundred submissions by Nora Burnett Abrams, Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. The artists are from New Mexico or the states adjoining our borders: Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. Painting, photography, collage and sculpture are represented. The artists include: Will Clift, Danae Falliers, Christ Oatey, Sarah McKenzie, Kate Rivers, Ian Fisher and Jill Christian.

 

Both exhibits run from April 17 to August 16, 2015.

 

Today's post was written by Denton McCabe. McCabe currently lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. An autodidactic composer and musician, McCabe’s father was a painter who introduced him to the work of an array of contemporary artists. McCabe is currently working on performances that combine art, spoken word, and music.

In the history of art and music, there are few individuals who have successfully combined the two. While attempts have been made between notable collaborators (Stravinksy and Picasso, Basquiat and Ramelzee, or Salvador Dali and Alice Cooper), there are significantly few artists and composers who are actually the same person.

Italian composer Sylvano Bussotti (b. 1931) has been a rather controversial figure in contemporary music. His scores are unconventionally notated and tend to draw from his experience as a painter, set designer, costume designer, and poet. In contemporary music circles, Bussotti is notorious for producing rich and complex graphic scores that defy all laws of tradition and academicism.

In the above excerpt from Pieces de Chair II (1970), Bussotti includes obvious nods to the notational practices of American composer John Cage, but the score also contains absurdities such as “O Mathematiques severes” whiting out a series of notes (perhaps in reference to the irrational rhythms of Brian Ferneyhough and Michael Finnissy, who were emerging at the time and shared a similar emphasis as Bussotti on unorthodox notation by way of complexity and calculation), or “nostalgia di casa” (which roughly translates as “homesick” and leaves one completely clueless as to the reasoning behind the inclusion of this phrase). Images like these are characteristic of Bussotti’s compositions and it is this ambiguity that has made his scores so memorable.

The second example comes from the set 5 Piano Pieces for David Tudor, written for the genius champion of avant-garde piano music. The score indicates that all notes should be very soft in intensity, “always.” The three sections of music indicate durations of 30, 15, and 45 seconds. This type of score is something for an interpreter to negotiate and approach in one’s own unique manner. It is possible that Bussotti innately knew that David Tudor would be completely capable of turning his design into a beautiful auditory experience.
Bussotti’s major contributions to music notation were made between the 1950s and 1970s, just before contemporary music became obsessed with stylistic pretensions such as minimalism, the new complexity, neo-romanticism, and other stylistic “isms.” While Bussotti remains far from a household name, his music and scores have influenced generations of composers who have sought new directions in notation and his scores of the 1950s may have had more in common with contemporary art than any composer’s work before, or since.

Clouds for Comment / Diane Rosenblum - 3/15/2015

Today's post comes from Sara Magaletta. After receiving her BA in Art History from Boston University, Sara moved to Santa Fe to be closer to her family. She is deeply involved in community development and maintains her life long love for art and fashion.
 
Perhaps those of us living in New Mexico are immune. Every evening, when the sun sets, we see a dynamic combination of colors and forms that seem more beautiful than the night before. Visitors will always exclaim, “did you see you see the sunset? Where can we get a good view of the sunset?” For those lucky enough to call Santa Fe their home, we can see it every night.
 

Diane Rosenblum
Untitled [I think there is just too much negative space…]
2010 (printed 2012)
pigment print
29 7/8 x 39 15/16 in.
Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art.
Gift of Foster Goldstrom, 2012 (2012.29.1)
 

Diane Rosenblum’s, “Clouds for Comment” series literally invites viewers to take more time with the photo and create their own opinion. In the spirit of our culture’s seemingly never-ending fascination with social media, Rosenblum originally posted her photos on flicker for guests to view and comment, eventually adding the text to their corresponding images. The result is a curious game of hide and seek. Upon initial glance, her photos appear to be nothing more than an amazing shot of pure sky, but stay a while, and notice the text within. Words sharing the opinion of the aforementioned flickr surfers make these images something to spend time with.

Diane Rosenblum
Untitled [only thing bad i would have to say, is that one cloud in the foreground top left, it was out of your control]
2010 (printed 2012)
pigment print
29 7/8 x 40 in.
Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art.
Gift of Foster Goldstrom, 2012 (2012.29.2)
 

It is exceptionally gutsy that Rosenblum created a live forum for the public to share their opinion, and her courage is only amplified as her pieces incorporate text that is not all flattering. The pieces on display at NMMA use the text, “ I think there is just too much negative space…” and “only thing bad i would have to say, is that one cloud in the foreground top left, it was out of your control.” Rosenblum is not choosing her words to boost her ego, or cause viewers to applaud her. She has chosen words that make the viewer think about someone else’s perspective, thus forcing them to consider their own.

Art can be intimidating and elitist, and people aren’t always willing to share their thoughts about something they see in fear of getting it wrong. Rosenblum forces her audience to feel comfortable with their experience. She has transformed what can be a somewhat indispensable subject, into an innovative conversation piece, without even being in the room.

Don’t Be Fooled by That Dusty Boot - 3/1/2015

 
Billy Schenck, Coming Down from the Mountain, n.d., oil on canvas, 27 x 48 in.
Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art.
Gift of Ernest J. and Edith M. Schwartz, 2010 (2010.36.10)
© Billy Schenck. Photo by Blair Clark
 
The interstate highway system, a series of concrete arteries that connects our nation, too often gives little hint of the diversity and unique qualities found in the great regions that make up the United States. For example, a traveler on Interstate 25, pushing 80, lost in a cloud where his favorite music is stored, might glance out the window at the St. Francis exit and keep on going, indeed increase the pressure on the accelerator. Why stop in a state the color of a dusty boot?  The answer is simple.
Behind that boot is a rich palette created by a magical light. A temptress, La Luz has inspired locals and visitors alike, especially artists, who have experienced and explored a wide range of beautiful, tantalizing, and contrasting colors and textures.
At night, the velvet skies are filled with stars that bejewel the heavens. At dawn, the horizon is outlined in silver, edged with blue.
Once the sun rises above the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the brilliant morning light rushes into the valleys like a river of diamonds, greeting the new day with boundless promise. The royal blue sky, so near at seven thousand feet, creates a perfect awning. Beneath the sky are colorful rock formations, sculpted by Nature’s sometimes careless, sometimes careful tools: time and the environment. In the background, the mountains are rugged and forested. At the tree line: green in the spring and summer, quilted with patches of gold in the fall, and blanketed with pristine snow, icy crystals alive with color under an inviting winter sun.   
When the thunderstorms come during the summer, double rainbows arc across the sky, their delicate colors vivid against the somber grays seen in clouds the texture of thick cotton. 
In the evenings, to the west, the sky is a fresco: alive and compelling, exploding with color. Rich oranges, yellows, reds and browns blend in a spectacular display until the day is done. From sunrise to sunset, this is a land of color.
During the summer of 2015, Nature’s bountiful gifts to northern New Mexico will be celebrated. Organized by the cultural institutions on Museum Hill, the “Summer of Color” features exhibits at a host of museums and galleries throughout the city.
At the Museum of Art, the exhibition Colors of the Southwest will showcase the special qualities of the Southwestern United States that have attracted artists for generations, said Carmen Vendelin, Curator of Art. “Western art is typified by color and light. When you come out here, you see it in the art. These qualities are unique. It’s part of the mystic. Color and light is what attracts artists.”
Colors of the Southwest will encompass an array of art created from the early twentieth century to the present including: paintings, photographs, prints, watercolors and ceramics. “In every media, you see a love of color. In this exhibition I wanted to show that universality,” Vendelin said.
Included in the show are iconic works by: Victor Higgins, Gustave Baumann, Sheldon Parsons, Dorothy Morang, Louise Crow, Andrew Dasburg, Fremont Ellis, Robert Daughters, William Penhallow Henderson, Kate Krasin, Eddie Dominguez, Helmuth Naumer, Warren Rollins and Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie.
The exhibit will present fresh and thought provoking pieces as well. “I’m also featuring art work that has never been shown before,” Vendelin said. “There will be a mix of styles, a broad overview and interesting art work.”
The work will be exhibited in a manner that will highlight different artists’ points-of-view. For example, Vendelin plans to place a Stuart Davis black and white painting near an Agnes Martin painting that features pale, delicate colors. “I’ll argue that Davis is doing black and white to control the expanse of space,” she explained. “Davis didn’t want to simply report on what he observed. He was a modernist. He wanted to flatten and abstract.”  
Prior to arriving in New Mexico, Agnes Martin painted in black, white and brown, Vendelin said. “So for Martin, being here really opened her up and changed what she was doing.” Martin is not the only artist whose work shifted under the New Mexico skies.
Sheldon Parsons, a very successful portrait artist back east, abandoned that genre and took up landscape painting. Vendelin added that changes in E. Martin Hennings work, as a result of living in New Mexico, also will be evident in the exhibit, which will total 73 pieces of art.  
Ceramicist Eddie Dominguez will give a gallery talk this summer at the museum. 
Colors of the Southwest at the Museum of Art runs from March 6 – September 13, 2015.
 
Other Must See Exhibits
On Museum Hill:
Museum of International Folk Art – The Red That Colored the World
New research and original scholarship explores the history and widespread use of cochineal, an insect-based dye that produces brilliant reds.  Use of the dye originated with indigenous peoples of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus and then spread throughout the world. Visitors will be able to see cochineal bugs and their camouflage. May 17 through September 13, 2015.
 
Museum of Indian Arts and Culture – Turquoise, Water, Sky: The Stone and Its Meaning
For more than a thousand years, people in the Southwest have used turquoise for jewelry and ceremonial purposes and traded valuable stones both in and outside the region. In this exhibition, the museum’s vast collection of Southwestern turquoise jewelry will be highlighted. All aspects of the stone, ranging from geology, mining, history, authenticity and value will be examined. On display through May 2, 2016
 
Museum of Spanish Colonial Art – Blue on Blue: Indigo and Cobalt in New Spain
Blue was an integral part of the colonial world. Found in images of the Virgin Mary, household blankets, ceramics and friar’s tunics, this exhibit will explore the use and importance of blue dyes and pigments in colonial life and its continued popularity in the traditional arts of today. A diverse collection of stunning pieces will demonstrate the ubiquitous popularity of blue over the centuries. May 8, 2015 through April 2016. 
 
Santa Fe Botanical Garden – Monarch – Orange Takes Flight
The newest member of Museum Hill is a garden full of diverse plants that celebrate our region’s rich botanical heritage. For the Summer of Color, orange will predominate in the container gardens on view. Orange also represents the endangered Monarch butterfly. A public program will inform visitors how to attract the king of the butterflies to your yard. Other programs will be presented as well. May 30 through September 13, 2015. 
 
International Folk Art Market Santa Fe – Green: Hope, Sustainability and Preservation
Master folk artists from around the globe will again gather to sell their art: jewelry, basketry, textiles, woodwork, ceramics and more. As a symbol of hope, sustainability and preservation, green will be the theme. In Tibet, green communicates peace and ease. In India, it is a symbol of purity, love and beauty. In Egypt, green represents rebirth and renewal.  July 10 through July 12, 2015.
 
Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian – Will celebrate the opening of its new Center for the Study of Southwestern Jewelry. The new wing will include the first museum gallery in the nation devoted to Navajo and Pueblo jewelry and related traditions, including flatware, hollowware, lapidary and stone carving. Jewelry has been a major Native art form in the Southwest for centuries. Its universal appeal is linked to identity and status in all cultures. The new wing opens June 6 and 7, 2015.  The collection will remain on permanent display.
 
Around Town and the Plaza:
New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors – Adobe Summer
Pearly white, sandy tan, cinnamon red, chocolate brown, Santa Fe’s adobe buildings reveal the earth’s colors. A summer long series of programs will explore the ins and outs of adobe construction, maintenance and history with a focus on the 400-year-old Palace of the Governors, a National Historic Landmark and National Treasure.
 
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum – Georgia O’Keeffe: Line, Color, Composition
Georgia O’Keeffe’s work is compelling and powerful because of her mastery of the essential elements of art. This exhibition reveals her disciplined drawing practice, dramatic color palette and innovative sense of composition. The presentation offers new insight into the significance of line in her work from preliminary sketches to the fluid outlines that define regions of her canvas and divides her compositions into dynamic zones of color.  May 8 through September 13, 2015.
 
Nearly 50 galleries (to date) from Canyon Road to the Railyard and beyond, all members of the Santa Fe Gallery Association, will present a wide lineup of exhibitions, explorations and artist talks that will celebrate an extensive spectrum of colors. There will be a special exhibit at the Roundhouse, the state capitol, where the Capitol Art Collection is on permanent display.
 
Also, joining the Color of Summer is the Canyon Road Merchants Associations. The 85 galleries along the historic street filled with old world charm, boutiques and restaurants will participate in the Summer of Color by hosting special exhibits and Friday night art openings.
 
Just Outside of Town in La Cienega:
El Rancho de las Golondrinas – El Color Morado/The Color Purple
The outdoor living history museum will round out the color wheel with an historical look at purple. The dye was extremely rare. It came from crushed sea-snails, brazilwood or from combining the new world insect cochineal with rare indigo plants.
 
Join us for the Summer of Color – an extravaganza that could only take place in Santa Fe, where, according to Mayor Javier Gonzales, artistic inspiration benefits the health, cultural awareness, happiness and productivity of everyone, citizens and visitors alike: A place where life is vibrant. 

 

Where is the Art? - 2/15/2015

Travelers to Museum Hill may notice that the parking area looks a little emptier. Martí Anson's "Flour Factory," which has stood at that location since 2008 seems to have disappeared. Fans of the piece will be pleased to know that the work remains in the New Mexico Museum of Art's permanent collection.

The story of this piece begins in the town of Mataró in the Catalonia region of Spain where artist Anson was born. At the time the Spanish artist was participating in SITE Sante Fe's seventh International Biennial in 2008 there was a public uproar over the proposed demolition of the 19th century C. A. Fabregas y de Caralt factory on the outskirts of Barcelona. Inspired by this outpuring of support, Anson decided to take the building to New Mexico by building a replica of it for the SITE exhibition. Similar to the situation with the original building, the people here became attached to the piece and decided to keep it after the SITE exhibition ended. Thus, it was given to the New Mexico Museum of Art for our permanent collection. However, the site-specific piece was never intended to last permanently, and our repsonsibility as a museum requires us to preserve the objects in our custody. When it came to the museum's attention that it needed a lot of conservation, staff consulted Anson and decided together that it would be best to demolish it in its current state and leave open the possibility of rebuilding it. Anson explained, the art is "not in the bricks." Rather it is the idea of making this scaled down model of the Spanish flour factory. The object itself is just a document of the artist's thinking. Therefore, the art can remain in our collection as a concept without a physical manifestation. 

As further testament to the artist's process, Brandon Sotor made the video below, published on the Santa Fe Reporter's YouTube channel.

Governor’s Gallery - 2/1/2015

A Texas politician once told me that the legislative process is like making sausage, in other words, not always a pretty sight. I’m not going to weigh in on that comment: I’ve yet to make a law or a link, but I must say that in New Mexico a trip to the state capitol is a visual delight.

There are two art galleries in the Roundhouse. The Governor’s Gallery, an outreach facility of the New Mexico Museum of Art, is located on the fourth floor in the governor’s suite. The second gallery, the Capitol Art Collection, exhibits art on the grounds and in the public venues throughout the building. That collection is supported by the Capitol Art Foundation, a non-profit, and the legislature.   
 
Given the significance of the Museum of Art’s coming 100th anniversary, the exhibit in the Governor’s Gallery is especially timely and informative.  Christine Mather, author of Santa Fe Style and a curatorial consultant, organized the exhibit, entitled: “That Multitudes May Share: The building of the New Mexico Museum of Art.”
 
 
Kenneth Chapman, New Art Museum, Santa Fe - South Front, 1916. 
10 1/4 x 27 in. Watercolor on paper.
Museum acquisition, before 1918. 1833A.23D
 
The New Old Santa Fe architectural style, which sets us apart from the rest of the nation, is directly tied to the museum’s construction. The arrival of more artists, who put the Southwest on the map, is also related to building the museum, which opened its doors in 1917.
 
All of it came about because of economic development. Santa Fe had been left behind when the railroad bypassed the capital prior to statehood in 1912. As a result, the city had been in an economic slump for three decades: population was stagnant.
 
Once New Mexico joined the union, the new state legislature allowed local communities to create plans for economic development. In Santa Fe, those efforts were spearheaded by Edgar Hewett, an archaeologist and educator, who would become the museum’s first director, Mayor Arthur Seligman, Frank Springer, a wealthy lawyer, landowner and politician, and archaeologist Sylvanus Morley, among others. “They wanted to attract people to Santa Fe. They did it in part by attracting artists to Santa Fe to show the world what New Mexico was really like in its most romantic version,” Mather said. The artists would need a venue to display their works.
 
Mayor Seligman formed a board that devised the “Santa Fe Plan” to promote development and tourism. “They hit upon the idea that what was unique about Santa Fe was the blend of Anglo, Hispanic and Indian cultures,” Mather said. The city would be defined in terms of its ancient adobe buildings with flat roofs.
 
By the way, roofers were not among the skilled craftsmen the founders deliberately sought. Unfortunately, when one gazes into the future, one rarely foresees all eventualities, and, of course, there are always plusses and minuses.
 
The Governor’s Palace, where artists had studios, was renovated. A new art museum, designed to become the centerpiece of the New-Old Santa Fe style on the Plaza, would be built nearby. At the time it was built, the construction was up-to-date, using modern methods, high-fired brick and cement mortar. The vigas, latillas, and murals in the St. Francis Chapel, along with the building’s façade - a blend of styles from Mission Churches on varies Pueblos - added the romance.
 
Another positive result came from the construction of the Museum. “Santa Fe has the second oldest historic ordinance in the country,” Mather said. “The concept of historic preservation is deep.” That ideal has led to a unique ambiance that continues to attract visitors and newcomers.
 
Over time, the “Santa Fe Plan” was wildly successful. “People came and lived here and thrived. Santa Fe became a tourist destination,” Mather said.
 
What Mather has done to illustrate the rich history of the Museum and the city is gather photographs, paintings, old postcards, architectural plans and even furniture crafted at the time the museum was built. The artisans created the chests and chairs in a Spanish Colonial style. The exhibit’s accompanying text clearly explains how a unique moment in history brought about a design solution that would influence the future of art and New Mexico for generations.
 
The Department of Cultural Affairs has placed cards throughout the capitol reminding legislators and New Mexicans that art and cultural industries pump five-point-six-billion dollars into our economy annually. That’s jobs and salaries. The beauty provided by our art and culture is priceless.
 
“That Multitudes May Share: The Building of the New Mexico Museum of Art” will be exhibited through March 27th. The Governor’s Gallery is on the 4th floor of the Roundhouse, which is located at the corner of Old Santa Fe Trail and Paseo de Peralta. 

 

Transcendental Painters Group - 1/15/2015

Art underwent dramatic changes in the early 20th Century, and New Mexico artists played a major role in the metamorphosis. Artist Raymond Jonson founded a group in 1938, which called itself the Transcendental Painters Group.  Members included Jonson, Bill Lumpklins, Emil Bisstram, Ed Garman, Florence Miller Pierce, Horace Towner Pierce, Agnes Pelton, Stuart Walker, Dane Rudhyar, and Lawren Harris. Its approach to art was to create non-objective paintings - "abstractive" works -that broke away from traditional approaches, thus : "transcended" them. Thus TPG disbanded in 1942 largely because of the Second World War's plummeting effect upon its general enthusiasm. But the abstract approach to art has remained a vital influence in the field of art to the present day. The New Mexico Museum of Art is honored to own several works by these artists to continue their legacy.

 

Really Fun! Really Cool! Really Great! Ellen’s Kids Have the Last Word - 1/1/2015

On December 21st, the day of the New Mexico Museum of Art’s Annual Holiday Open House, featuring the Baumann Marionettes, Ellen Zieselman, who is retiring, stood on the museum’s steps one last time, encouraging everyone who passed by to come on in. “Hey, it’s free,” said she.

In a world where paintings and sculptures are routinely sold at auction by Sotheby’s or Christie’s for millions of dollars, a free afternoon spent at a state museum, where families can view art, see a puppet show, and make their own stick puppets is more than a bargain; it’s a treasure, a living legacy to be passed from one generation to the next.

Santa Fe is a city blessed with incomparable museums. What stands out about our museum, and the New Mexico Museum of Art is the people’s museum, are the institution’s open door traditions. Those democratic principles were fired into the first brick laid when the museum was built nearly one hundred years ago. The doors have remained open ever since: to artists, art lovers, tourists and to young people eager to learn.

During her career as Curator of Education, Ellen has worked tirelessly to train docents and introduce young people to art, which she defines as: “an expression of individual creativity.” It’s not been all sweat and heavy lifting, though. Ellen has a tremendous sense of humor and clearly enjoys what she’s doing.

Since she announced her coming retirement, there have been toasts, testimonials and tears among docents, staff and colleagues. Museum Director Mary Kershaw acknowledges that filling Ellen’s shoes will be a tough task. After all, Ellen owns eleven pairs of Converse Sneakers, her favorite footwear. Who but a centipede could fill that many shoes? On the other hand, that many shoes leave scores of footprints. Like petroglyphs, footprints can leave lasting impressions.

Just take a look at the kids Ellen has introduced to art over the past quarter century. She teaches young viewers to look inside themselves as they view a painting. She encourages them to freely express themselves as she asks: “What do you see?”

That question is a natural “gotcha,” creating a healthy bond while boosting self-esteem according to Kershaw. “Ellen empowers the students to look at art from where they are and that is one of the most powerful connections you can build. Ellen does that really, really well.”

Ellen hasn’t sat in her office, a box like space Pandora would covet, or remained in the temple. Over the years, she has taken her show on the road, visiting schools throughout the area.

“The work that we do in the schools where Ellen goes out and actually teaches art, art history and looking at pictures, is really inspiring for children,” Kershaw said. “Art should be inspiring and art should be for everyone.”

That’s exactly what Ellen does: she inspires, according to Lisa Nordstrum, a history teacher at Santa Fe Prep, where Ellen has worked with 7th and 10th grade students for the past two years.

The minute she walks into the classroom, the students realize that this visitor will not force them to sit through a snoring, boring lecture on art history, interesting only when the power point presentation fails.

“You notice Ellen the minute she comes in a room,” Nordstrum said. “The first thing I look at is her feet, her sneakers. What Converse color is she wearing today? That’s her signature. Those shoes represent who Ellen is. She’s vivacious and engaging with a bright personality.”

Ellen’s also really fun and really cool, according to three of Nordstrum’s 7th grade history students. Sydney Manningham, Sylvia Carter-Smith and Emma Lawrence are all highly intelligent and poised young ladies who know exactly what they’re looking for in a teacher. After all, they’ve been observing teachers all of their lives. Ellen gets their stamp of approval.

“She talks in a way that we can understand. She makes art interesting and fun,” Sydney said. “Art is a visual, but you can have your own thoughts and opinions about it.”

Sylvia, who has also studied with Ellen in Hebrew School at Temple Beth Shalom, where Ellen is director of youth programs, agrees with her classmate. “Ellen has this presence. She’s real strong; she has this competence that makes you pay attention. She relates to children.”

Emma believes Ellen’s approach to teaching is what makes her cool. “Ellen brought a whole new idea about how we think about art. She brought in new ideas in a really fun way. I think that’s really special about her. Ellen’s a really great teacher.”

Ellen describes her teaching technique as problem solving. Because of her keen intelligence, she finds ways to support the curriculum and, better yet, expand it, Nordstrum says. “I’ve been teaching my students about primary sources this year. Ellen showed up with archival photographs and cameras. After we looked at the photographs, the kids went out with the cameras and created their own primary, in the moment, source.”

“Oh, that was so cool. Really cool,” Sydney, Sylvia and Emma said, speaking at the same time, while nodding in approval.

Ellen’s longstanding passion for art history, teaching and interacting with people, especially kids, is contagious. Nordstrum describes Ellen’s classroom presence as a one of kind experience. “Ellen is the first speaker who has come into my classroom, and the next day the kids have asked: ‘When is Ellen coming back?’ It isn’t: Is Ellen coming back. It’s WHEN is Ellen coming back,” Nordstrum said. “I think that speaks volumes right there.”

When asked what she considers her greatest achievements in her 25 years at the museum, Ellen first listed the book she wrote, The Hand-Carved Marionettes of Gustave Baumann, as a significant achievement. The puppets - Warts, Freckles and Miguelito - would surely agree.

But there’s another achievement in which Ellen takes pride. “Overall, I’d say what I find most gratifying is when I go to the supermarket or go into a coffee shop and there is a kid in his late teens or early twenties who says: ‘Oh, I remember you from the museum.’ That happens to me quite often. I would say I’m really very proud of the impact I feel I and the docents and this institution have made on the people of Santa Fe and New Mexico.”

Ellen Zieselman may have moved on but her rich legacy will remain in the museum’s many galleries. Ellen’s kids will return, retracing her footprints, all the while keeping the museum’s foundation solid and strong for the next hundred years. Their kids, no doubt, will follow.

Because art not only adds beauty to our lives as Ellen points out, art can teach us to take another look, a closer look, at someone else’s vision and point of view. That can only expand and enrich our lives in this crowded yet beautiful world.



© 2003-2012 The New Mexico Museum of Art, a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. 107 West Palace, off the historic Santa Fe Plaza
Mailing Address: PO Box 2087, Santa Fe, NM 87504
505/476-5072 | finearts.museum@state.nm.us