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)
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.
Untitled [I think there is just too much negative space…]
2010 (printed 2012)
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.
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)
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)
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 newCenter 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.
A Hee-Haw For The Holidays by Miguelito - 12/15/14
The Museum of Art’s Annual Holiday Open House takes place on Sunday, December 21 from 1 to 4 p.m.
Gustave Baumann Donkey (Miguelito)
Gift of Jane Baumann, 1978
I’ll be there. I hope to see you too because I need your help. Who am I? Why I’m Miguelito, the faithful burro. I’m a puppet. I belong to Juan and Rosina, his wife. We’re all puppets, part of the marionette family created by New Mexico artist Gustave Baumann. During the holiday season, we perform along with Freckles and Warts, duende twins, who make mischief while everyone else tries to make merry.
What do I mean by mischief? Well, one year, Freckles and Warts took me, Miguelito. While Rosina fretted, instead of baking biscochitos, Juan had to stop what he was doing and find me!
During this year’s puppet show – there will be two performances directed by Barbara Hatch – Warts will be on stage along with the rest of us, while Freckles hides in the museum. He was asked to hide, so children attending this year’s events could look for him on a Treasure Hunt.
Gustave Baumann Freckles, Duendi
Gift of Jane Baumann, 1978
If you haven’t been to one of our performances before, you’ll need some clues if you want to find him. Freckles is a little guy with strings attached. He’s named after the freckles on his face. He looks just like his twin, Warts. How do you tell them apart? Look carefully.
Freckles also has a long wooden nose. He’s always sticking his nose into trouble. Maybe he should have been named Nosy. Because he’s a duende, or an elf, he has funny ears. Sharp ears like a Trekkie.
Freckles will be wearing his costume, his duende duds. It’s hard to get cool clothes in small sizes: you don’t want to wear doll’s clothes, but does Freckles have to dress like a lampshade? Lucky for me, I wear fur year round. Freckles also wears a hat that looks like an upside down funnel. See what I mean about mischief?
On the Treasure Hunt, you’ll have to look hard for Freckles. The museum is big, two stories! It’s packed full of art now, too. AND, Freckles and Warts know how to make themselves invisible. That’s right! Thin Air Twins! Poof! They vanish, but they always come back.
What do you do when you find Freckles? Martha Landry, the Museum’s Special Events Person, says the boy or girl who finds Freckles will win a prize. Collect your prize, receive your congratulations, then let me know where you found him.
Before my show biz career, I hauled wood from the mountains down to Burro Alley, so, yes, I could carry a grudge easily, and Freckles and Warts have played tricks on me. But that’s not what this is all about, besides I always forgive them. Underneath their lampshade jerseys, their wooden hearts are made of gold. Trust me; it’s puppet anatomy.
Anyway, as Miguelito, the faithful burro, I want to make sure Freckles didn’t make more mischief while he was playing Peek-A-Boo Puppet. The holidays are right around the corner. I want to take some time off. Kick up my heels. Let the reindeer do the heavy lifting from here on out. I want to have fun and plenty of it, and I want you to have plenty of fun, too. So listen. Make your ears as long as mine.
In addition to the two performances of Teatro Duende, Baumann’s Santa Marionette will be in the St. Francis Auditorium. He’ll sit in your lap. If you want your picture taken with Santa, bring your camera or your phone.
I usually give friends and family a Hee-Haw around the holidays, but if anyone needs holiday cards or special gifts, they’re available in the New Mexico Museum and the History Museum gift shops. The Gustave Baumann family not only put on puppet shows each year, Gus and his artist friends created fantastic holiday cards. There’s an exhibit of those cards at the History Museum. A holiday book, Gustave Baumann and Friends Artist Cards From Holidays Past, by Jean Moss and Thomas Leech, is available as well.
For a real treat, check out the videos (below) created by students at the Community College of Santa Fe. The filmmakers have produced a number of videos about us: The Baumann Marionettes. They’re on YouTube. They’re a hoot; guaranteed to make you kick up your heels.
Strike 1970 - 12/1/2014
Tin soldiers and Nixon's comin'
We're finally on our own
This summer I hear the drummin'
Four dead in Ohio
Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are gunning us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?
- "Ohio" by Crosby, Still, Nash & Young
Neil Young wrote these lyrics in 1970 after seeing the now-famous photographs of the Kent State massacre in Life Magazine. The photos depicted Ohio National Guardsmen shooting four students at Kent State University who were protesting the US military's invasion of Cambodia during the Viet Nam War on May 4, 1970. The event spurred additional protests throughout the country within days.
At the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, local anti-war activists called for a strike, and students took over the Student Union Building. On May 6, four anti-war protesters were stabbed by pro-war students, causing the regents to shut down the university and obtain a restraining order to vacate university buildings. When students ignored the order, police started arresting activists on May 8. Upon hearing false rumors that the protestors were armed, then-Governor David Cargo called the New Mexico National Guard. The chaos escalated in several protestors being bayonetted by the National Gardsmen. Unlike at Kent State, no one at the UNM strike was killed. Yet the event is still felt deeply by those who were present.
A group of graduate art students formed the Visual Coalition to photographically document the UNM strike. One of these students, Paige Pinnell, donated several of these photographs to the museum, currently in the exhibition Hunting + Gathering. The photographs are all untitiled and the photographer is unknown, forcing the viewer to focus on the subject.