HeART of Paper - 11/25/13
"Remember that only on paper has humanity yet achieved glory, beauty, truth, knowledge, virtue and abiding love." - George Bernard Shaw
The humble paper is an incredibly versatile material and its usage in art dates back centuries. Paper was invented in China at the beginning of the second century AD, and spread from there to the Middle East. As the Islamic Empire spread throughout Africa and Europe, papermaking became increasingly mechanized. It was around that time that paper became the de facto material on which to record legal and diplomatic information for political and administrative needs. This created a huge demand for paper that resulted in sheets that were largely mass-produced, inexpensive, and fragile. Although bureaucratic work drove the production of paper, artists also found paper’s abundance, flexibility and relative affordability made it a useful material with which to work.
There are so many things that an artist can do with paper. A flat sheet of paper is the most common support for drawings, prints and watercolors. There is an extensive history of stacking paper into the form of a book or folio, from medieval illuminated manuscript books to contemporary artists’ books. Paper can also be folded to create a sculpture, such as the traditional Japanese art of origami. When paper is wet and molded it creates three dimensional objects, a process known as papier-mache. Folk artists from regions as diverse as Mexico and Poland cut or tear tissue paper to create works known respectively as papel picado and Wycinanki. Paper's translucent quality makes it a good material for creating lanterns, such as the farolitos of New Mexico. Light and paper are also combined to make photographs when light-sensitive paper is exposed to the sun. Even contemporary photography that is done using digital cameras is still usually printed onto paper as the final product.
With the opening of Renaissance to Goya in a few weeks, the museum will be absolutely filled with paper. In that exhibition alone, the visitor will be able to see a spectrum of works on paper that demonstrate not just the versatility of paper but the history of modern Europe. You will see that history is recorded on paper not just in the form of bureaucratic records and textbooks but in art as well. You might even think twice about whether you really want to live in a “paperless society” in the future.
José Camarón (1731-1803), An Oriental woman. Drawing, 214 x 149 mm. Courtesy the British Museum
An Artist and a Veteran - 11/6/13
This Monday, November 11th, is Veteran’s Day in America. As the country honors and thanks all who have served in the United States Armed Forces, we at the museum would like to reflect on the contributions veterans have made to the arts. Several notable artists have used their artistic skills to document wars. For example, both Tom Lea and Peter Hurd worked as war correspondents for LIFE Magazine during World War II. In addition, Hurd’s military ties include being a student at New Mexico Military Institute and West Point.
Jay Burton. Typewriter for Writing the Great American War Novel: Filling the Breach in the Line, 2003. Sculpture 7 1/2 x 17 x 14 in. Gift of Jay Burton, 2006. New Mexico Museum of Art
There is also an interesting history of veterans who made art in the Southwest. Early member of the Santa Fe art colony, Carlos Vierra, was a captain in the New Mexico National Guard who fought along the Mexican border in 1916. Painters Will Shuster and D Paul Jones served in France during World War I before moving to New Mexico. Noted Pueblo photographer Lee Marmon served a tour of duty in Alaska during World War II. Another photographer (and Curator of Photography at this museum from 1970-1976), Anne Noggle, was one of 1700 women who flew for the US Army during WWII as a Woman Airforce Service Pilot (WASP). Modernist painter Cady Wells volunteered in the First Army Engineering Corps during World War II. Richard Diebenkorn served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1943 until 1945. Albuquerque-based painter Wilson Hurley was a pilot in the Air Force after graduating from West Point and later flew for the New Mexico National Guard. Artists Michael Naranjo, Glynn Gomez, Doug Hyde, and Edward Gonzales all served in Vietnam. These are just a few examples of the many veterans whose works have been exhibited in the museum and its outreach facilities. Currently, Edward Gonzales is one of this year’s Governor’s Awards recipients for Excellence in the Arts and his work can be seen at the Governor’s Gallery on the 4th Floor of the State Capitol.
Lucien Jonas, La Sentinelle (from the portfolio Avec la 1re Division Américaine sur le Front), 1918. Lithograph on wove paper. 15 1/2 x 12 1/8 in. Gift of A. Verner Wasson, 1965. New Mexico Museum of Art.
Art of the Dance - 10/21/13
“We believe firmly in the integration of the arts, of all the agencies that bring beauty and harmony into the lives of men.” – Edgar L. Hewett
These words were stated by the museum’s first director in 1937 for the catalog of our 20th anniversary exhibition. At that time, Dr. Hewett was referring to the use of St. Francis Auditorium, which has been a community space for celebrating the arts since it was built in 1917. This Friday, we will be taking Hewett’s vision a step further by fusing the visual arts with the performing arts not just in the same building but in the same space. When Julie Brette Adams performs three interpretive dances in the galleries it will be a continuation of this tradition of showcasing all of New Mexico's arts and artists.
Classical, ritual and popular dance forms have been popular subjects of art for centuries. In Hewett’s time, the relationship between visual art and performance art consisted mostly of artists trying to capture dancers through painting, printmaking, sculpture and photography. Sharyn Udall's book, Dance and American Art: A Long Embrace is an excellent source for informaiton on this topic. With interpretive dance the roles are reversed: the dancer tells the story of the visual art through movement. It is our hope at the museum that Julie's dance inspires visitors to understand the artwork on display in a completely different way. By taking still objects and surroundig them with movement, it is almost as if the works themselves come to life and move with the dancer. The music, art and dance blend seemlessly together to create something that is more beautiful than the sum of its parts.
Adams will be doing 3 dances. Upstairs, in Collecting is Inquiry, she will dance a slow meditative piece using two folded paper sculptures to abstract music that has voice and strings. Downstairs, in It's About Tiime, she will start with a dance about heartbreak to a blues song by Mary Gauthier entitled "Falling Out of Love " and finish with a joyful dance to two pieces of music by Bach.
Cui Bono?, circa 1911
Gerald Cassidy (American, 1869 - 1934)
oil on canvas, 93 1/2 x 48 in. (237.5 x 121.9 cm)
Gift of Gerald Cassidy, 1915
Tasha Ostrander, Seventy-three in a Moment, 1996, 26,645 handcut, photovopied paper butterflies, stained with tea and coffee; gum arabic; masonite, 10 x 10 ft x 2 1/2 in. Gift of William Siegal, 2012.
Spanish Drawings from the British Museum: Renaissance to Goya 10/11/13
Our upcoming exhibition, Renaissance to Goya: Prints and Drawings from Spain, was curated by Mark McDonald from the British Museum in London. Since it showed there, it has traveled to the Prado in Madrid and is currently at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Although each venue for this traveling exhibition has done things slightly differently, you can get a feel for what our version will be like by watching this video done by the Prado interviewing Mark McDonald.
Gallery Resource Areas - 9/23/13
Visitors to the museum will notice that in addition to the fabulous artwork on display, we have also been adding several Gallery Resource Areas made possible by the Joyce Peters Fund. Joyce Merchant Peters (1936-2012) was first a docent and then went on to manage the Museum Shop at the New Mexico Museum of Art for nearly two decades. She also co-authored with T. Dudley Cramer a story that detailed the history of her family’s San Simon ranch that was published in the Midland, Texas' Haley Memorial Library book, Cowboys Who Rode Proudly. When she passed away, her family offered the museum a generous donation as a memorial to her. Joyce’s love of reading and leaning inspired us to create resource areas in the museum galleries in her honor. Each gallery resource area is designed around a particular theme, often related to an exhibition, under the title of “Learn More About…” They are intended as a moment for reflection to provide additional information to those who want it.
Our first Gallery Resource Area made possible by the Joyce Peters Fund is about the history of the New Mexico Museum of Art’s building and is located on the first floor near the exhibition Back in the Saddle
. Visitors have several resources to choose from, to cater to their learning style. There is a touchscreen with 5 short videos using archival photographs which tell the stories behind the building’s architecture and design. These videos
were created by the museum’s Librarian using audio that was narrated by Penelope Hunter-Stiebel. There is also a rack card with both a timeline of significant events in the museum’s history and a list of additional resources for people to take with them. Lastly, there are several books and a copy of El Palacio that discusses the building’s historic furniture.
A second Gallery Resource Area debuted with the opening of the exhibition, 50 Works for 50 States: New Mexico. This area also has a touchscreen with 4 short videos (below) on the theme of museum collecting as well as a section specifically about the The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection. Visitors can use the touchscreen to learn about Dorothy and Herbert Vogel as well as the artists they collected. The section about museum collecting tells the story of how works of art become part of the museum’s permanent collection, what we collect and why. This Gallery Resource Area relates to the museum-wide celebration of collectors and collecting.
Regardless of their subject and materials used, all Gallery Resource Areas made possible by the Joyce Peters Fund provide a unique enhancement to the visitor experience. The art, architecture and design of the museum serve as conversation starters about issues that anyone can relate to. We hope these Gallery Resource Areas inspire visitors to share what they have learned with others.
50x50 - 9/12/13
In celebration of the upcoming exhibition, 50 Works for 50 States: New Mexico, the museum will be showing a special viewing of the film, Herb & Dororthy, a documentary about the couple who amassed the collection of art we will be showing. As it happens, there is a new sequel to that film by the same director that is specifically about the project, The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: 50 Works for 50 States. Herb & Dorothy 50x50 will be premiering in New York City at the IFC begining tomorrow, September 13th. Here, in Santa Fe, you can catch the movie at the Center for Contemporary Arts November 23-24th. It will also be in Taos, NM on October 11th and 12th at the Harwood Museum of Art and in Albuquerque, NM December 26-30th at the Guild Cinema. Herb & Dorothy 50x50 tells the story of the project to gift 50 works of art to one institution in every state in America. The New Mexico Museum of Art is this state's recipient of the gift.
Photo: Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, museum director David Turner, artist Richard Tuttle, his wife Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and their daughter Martha in front of museum in 1995
New Mexico Museum of Art Library and Archives, Exhibition File K1962
Zozobra !- 8/30/13
Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine Santa Fe’s annual celebration of Fiesta without the burning of Zozobra, but that wasn’t always the case. Although Fiesta dates back to 1712, Zozobra was only created in 1926 by artist/inventor Will Shuster. Shus, as he was affectionately known, was the life of the Santa Fe social scene and member of the local artist group, Los Cinco Pintores. He designed the enormous puppet and oversaw its construction for nearly four decades. Zozobra’s appearance has changed somewhat over the years, even taking on the likeness of Hitler, Mussolini, and Emperor Hirohito during World War II! In 1964, Shuster signed all the rights to Zozobra over to the Santa Fe Kiwanis Club.
The New Mexico Museum of Art owns several works by Will Shuster, including the murals in the courtyard, as well as a comprehensive archival collection. If you want to learn more about the always-entertaining Will Shuster and Zozobra, read the book , Will Shuster: A Santa Fe Legend by Joseph Dispenza and Louise Turner.
Photograph of Will Shuster (left) in front of Zozobra head by Wyatt Davis taken September 2, 1949
Will Shuster Papers, New Mexico Museum of Art Library and Archives
Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange - 8/13/13
For the second year in a row, during Indian Market weekend Dine` photographer Will Wilson invites the public to watch him work on his Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange project at the New Mexico Museum of Art. Wilson’s innovative use of an antique camera and dark room processing to photograph contemporary subjects seamlessly blends old technology (the tintype) with the new (the digital scan). The tintype was a camera process that was very popular in America from the 1860s to the early 1900s due to its relative inexpensiveness. It involved exposing a metal plate and fixing it with chemicals. The result is a direct positive, an image that appears reversed, as in a mirror. During this time period many European-Americans photographed indigenous people because the photographs were intended to preserve a culture which they determined to be on the verge of disappearing.
As someone who works with archival photographs, I tend not to question the authenticity of the medium. Like many people, I assume that a photograph taken before I was born shows things the way they were. The CIPX project exposed to me the biases of the tintype image. Compare the photograph of me taken by Wilson (left) with one using a digital camera (right). When the tintype was popularly being used, it was intended as an accurate record of the era. After experiencing the CIPX project, I’m more inclined to think tintypes documented things that existed only in the mind of the photographer. Come to this event, and you, too, may be surprised by what you learn.
Collectors and collecting - 7/24/13
People collect art for different reasons. They may be motivated by philanthropy, the desire to preserve a particular culture, or the basic human desire to possess. Many start out with no intention to build a collection, but simply to acquire works they admire. Often collectors are artists in their own right, and the collection serves as inspiration for his/her work. Regardless of who they were collected by or why they were collected, collections provide a great deal of insight into the taste of the collector. Most art collections exist only behind closed doors for the enjoyment of the collectors and their closest friends. Sometimes these collections are loaned or donated to museums. Starting on August 30th, our museum will be showcasing several art collections ranging in styles, subjects, and mediums. In anticipation of this museum-wide theme of collectors and collecting, we hope you enjoy this video by former New Mexico resident Dennis Hopper on his personal art collection.
El Palacio - 6/25/13
El Palacio is the oldest museum magazine in the country. It began in 1913 as the official publication of the Museum of New Mexico. The name refers to the Palace of the Governors, the first museum established under the state museum system. In 1917 the New Mexico Museum of Art was the second state museum established, and El Palacio remains one fo the best sources for information about our early history. You don't have to come to the museum library to view the originals, you can see scans of every issue published from 1913 to 2006 through the New Mexico State Library's Digital Collections.
The current issue, Summer 2013, features 4 articles about works currently being shown at the museum, "Shiprock and Mont St. Michel: Similar Differernces," "Peter Sarkisian: Criticality and the Media Machine, " "A Tale of Two Paintings," and "Back in the Saddle: The Horse as Icon." A subscription to El Palacio is one of the many benefits to being a Museum of New Mexico Foundation member. If you are not a Foundation member, you can still subscribe online or by phone or mail.