Tuesday, December 5, 2017

News and Notes

I'm almost ready to start painting again. I mean "art" rather than painting the house or something like that.

I gave it up a couple of years ago due to joint pain that made it so difficult to do much of anything.

But I've been re-animated thanks to being almost pain free almost all the time now (how amazing is that?)  and since I've been able to get around better, I've been going to exhibits that I couldn't do before.

The New Mexico Museum of Art celebrated its 100th Anniversary the other week and we went amidst crowds and crowds of mostly elderly people who wanted to enjoy the festivities before they shuffled off their Mortal Coils. Well, I understand. Believe me.

I also understand that many were disappointed as we were.

The Museum has an extraordinary collection of Santa Fe and Taos Colony art as well as a Contemporary art collection that can be mind-blowing, some of which was on display, but a lot of it must have been still in storage or on loan to some other museum. There were few pieces on display that everyone hadn't seen before... many times. And taken as a whole, the 100th Anniversary exhibition was ... sparse.

The greatest disappointment was in the contemporary gallery where few things stood out or even held any interest. And there wasn't much anyway. A stack of Horizon magazines was momentarily intriguing, but you have to be Of a Certain Age to even know what they are. We have a fair-sized collection of them (as well as a larger collection of American Heritage magazines) all of which we're quite fond of but have never done anything with except keep them on the shelves and pull them out for reference now and then.

And here was an artist who had glued a dozen or so issues together and glued a magnifying glass on top of the stack and the assembly was on display at the New Mexico Museum of Art with a prominent sign reading PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH!!

OK then. Somebody's cred in the museum world must have been at stake. I dunno. Reminded me a bit of an earlier exhibit of "art" that included a couple of sawn 6x6s laid on a low platform and labeled "Wood," as well as several pages from a lined notebook each with a splotch or two of watercolor, lovingly framed, called something I don't recall because it was so... limited.

There had to be an Agnes Martin in the Contemporary gallery, and there was. In context, I rather like her minimalist pieces, but the context needs to be full in order for her stripes or boxes or whatever stand out. There was no context to the painting on exhibit. Sigh. Sadly, it was boring.

Perhaps the most annoying piece was a white wall on which the artist -- don't know who, don't care -- had drawn all over serpentine shapes that you couldn't see unless you were A) very close or B) standing at just the right angle but not too far away. Casual passers by wouldn't even know it was there...

Idiotic s putting it charitably.

Contrast that with the energetic exhibits at the Albuquerque Museum. Oh my. I'm still breathing a bit heavily.

"When Modern Was Contemporary" is a touring exhibit that's been there for a while, but I hadn't seen it yet until I decided to check in at the Museum on "doctor day," December 1, when I had a gap between the Eye Doctor and the Rheumatologist.

I happened into the exhibit while the Albuquerque curator Andrew Connors was taking some Santa Fe ladies on a tour of the exhibit, and he just added to my astonishment and joy. Andrew is quite a personality in town, and his absolute thrill at hosting this exhibit was infectious. The Santa Fe Ladies were captivated. So was I. This was a wonderful exhibit, and I'm only sorry the Museum doesn't have more of it online. Andrew mentioned that he hoped the Santa Fe Ladies would check out the "Common Ground" exhibit that he curated as well, but I somehow doubt they did.

I didn't have time that day myself, but I came back a few days later and took in "Common Ground" as well as taking another look at "When Modern was Contemporary".

Here's one of several videos of Andrew introducing the "Common Ground" exhibit:

I'd seen many of these works before, but never so many displayed in so concentrated an exhibit. It was almost overwhelming.

The contemporary selections were outstanding, and they were in context, and they were inspirational:

This is the kind of contemporary exhibit I wish the New Mexico Museum of Art had done. One of the sad things about the failure in Santa Fe was that some of the same artists were on exhibit in Albuquerque -- where in context their works shined bright.

Albuquerque is (still) considered something of a rough backwater in the Art World. Oh every now and then somebody says something nice about its "vibrancy" and whatnot, but Santa Fe and Taos are considered "serious." Albuquerque is "interesting." Sometimes.

A painting that struck home in the "Common Ground" exhibit was a portrait of Governor Bruce King at his ranch just up the road from our place. That's one aspect of our common ground. We met Governor King -- wouldn't say we knew him -- and we pass by his ranch all the time. I see a portrait of him in that landscape and feel a deep connection to these people and this place.

Another exhibit I was able to take in briefly was the collection at the Roundhouse, the New Mexico State Capitol in Santa Fe. (Speaking of governors and such.)

It's a stunning collection both inside and outside the building.

A friend who was there at the same time as me said he'd never been there before -- like me -- and he was -- like me -- gobsmacked, never imagining there was anything like this collection in a capitol building.

I've been in quite a few state capitols, most of which have some kind of art in them, but nothing approaches the breadth and depth of the New Mexico Capitol collection.

I'll have to go back one day.

We're planning to do Christmas in Taos at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House -- let's hope the weather holds. Ms. Ché has done writing workshops there and she loves it. Mabel of course is an Icon besides.

The weather. Don't know quite what to say about it. We have not had any precipitation in two months, and November was far and away the warmest in recorded history. We were supposed to plunge into cold weather overnight, but so far, nope. Well, maybe it won't warm up much today. And we'll get a little chill, but week after week of well above average temps for November and December has discombobulated pretty much everyone.

Meanwhile, how about that Russia Thing? Why do I think it's a charade?

No comments:

Post a Comment