Kelsey Simmen creates one-of-a-kind pieces and small production batches that reflect her love for color and design. She is inspired by unusual materials, science, patterns, and shapes. By experimenting with traditional and non-traditional media, Kelsey has found joy in creating pieces that are vibrant, thoughtful, and cheeky.
Matthew Mullins is an avid hiker and distance runner, and lately he’s been leaving artwork behind on his adventures through New Mexico’s high desert. He’ll install pinhole cameras in remote areas, note their coordinates, and return for them weeks or months later. The final images reflect the shifting path of the sun and other natural phenomena—that is, if Mullins can retrieve them. Weather and wild animals have destroyed several cameras, and others have vanished without a trace. Despite the occasional lost artwork, Mullins says his far-flung creative process is worth the risk.
“With these pinhole photos, I’m presenting different ways to look at nature and different ways of seeing time,” the Santa Fe artist explains. “The incredibly long exposures require the cameras to be in remote locations, which always involves leaps of faith.” In his solo exhibition The Sun in Our Bones, opening Friday, September 28 from 5 to 7 pm, Mullins presents photographs, paintings and sculptures inspired by the intrinsic links between humans and the natural world. An artist talk follows on October 20, and a closing reception takes place on November 17.
When Mullins began working on The Sun in Our Bones last year, he was shooting for the stars. “I thought about making a series of artwork within a spectrum of very earthy and grounded to cosmic. I wanted to paint nature and natural processes from the subatomic world to the stars” says Mullins. “How do you encompass that staggering span, and pull someone all the way through it?” The Santa Fe artist has been working on a series of highly unconventional landscape paintings since moving to New Mexico from Berkeley, California in 2011. The works depict scenes from nature, often in a monochrome palette, with geometric patterns inspired by human-made designs cutting through them. A concurrent series of watercolor paintings features mandala patterns dotted with countless stars.
Branching out even further, the artist started experimenting with several new mediums. He gathered dry, twisted pieces of juniper wood on his outdoor excursions and brought them back to his studio, cleaning them, burnishing them and covering them with shiny graphite to accentuate their lines and textures. Through the pinhole photography series, Mullins found a method for depicting a temporal experience of landscape. “I really wanted to track time in a different way and also show the movement of our planet around the sun. I didn’t think I could really get that in my paintings,” he says. “I love the idea of having these pinhole cameras out in the world. They’re working right now, so I’m making art 24/7.”
The Sun in Our Bones will span form & concept’s ground floor, the second show in the gallery’s two-year history (after Thais Mather’s Reckless Abandon in November 2017) to devote an entire level to a single artist. The title of the exhibition is a reference to an unconventional material Mullins has incorporated into some of his cosmic paintings: pigment made from burnt animal bones. “The calcium and phosphorous in those bones, and our own, are made in stars,” Mullins says. “It’s truly all connected.”
For Mullins, the exhibition is a culmination of 15 years of work as a professional artist. Originally from the Bay Area of California, he received his MFA from University of California Berkeley. There, he began his career with his Artifacts & Archives paintings, a series of photo-realistic watercolors that replicate the archival environments and materials he had access to during his graduate studies.
Mullins received the prestigious Eisner Prize for Visual Art in 2010, a year before relocating to New Mexico. Following the move, he was inspired by the desolate, sweeping landscapes of the Desert Southwest to shift from an illustrative style to semi-abstraction. Through his latest work, Mullins has sought to show the connection between human consciousness and the natural world. “Humans are part of the natural world,” says Mullins. “But we often become so focused on our individuality that we lose track of that greater connection. My work is about reintegrating with nature and finding unity in that relationship.”
“It’s all about having this vulnerability and turning it into power. The crystals stemmed from Superman’s crystalline Fortress of Solitude. It’s about the power of crystals in this kind of cartoony, comic book way—and then in reality, the various properties that people believe they have. They’re like mini shields.”
ppoacher ppoacher & Sevda Choir
Thursday, September 6, 7:30-9 pm
The gallery will ask for a $5-$25 donation in support of the artists at the door.
Caitlin Brothers is going places—specifically, all across the Southeastern United States. “The new tour passes through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Texas,” says the Santa Fe musician, who performs under the moniker ppoacher ppoacher. “I’m trying to split it between familiar territory and places I’ve never explored.” That’s a good way to describe her musical repertoire for an upcoming Matron Records tour launch event at form & concept. Brothers and her new bandmate Nathan Smerage will perform songs from the band’s 2017 debut album, along with some new material they’ve written together. She’ll also sing traditional Balkan music with Santa Fe’s Sevda Choir, which welcomed her into its ranks a few months ago.
NMSA First Thursdays / September
Thursday, September 6, 6 pm
New Mexico School for the Arts is in the midst of renovating and repurposing their new Railyard location, and they’re wasting no time injecting fresh creative energy into the district. The arts high school presents a special performance series at form & concept, hosted by faculty members and showcasing student musicians, fiction writers and poets. This month’s event includes readings by three young writers, and a music program of small-set jazz duos curated by Jazz Studies teacher Orlando Madrid. Make sure to mark your calendar for NMSA performances on the first Thursday of each month.
Caitlin Brothers is going places—specifically, all across the Southeastern United States. “The new tour passes through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Texas,” says the Santa Fe musician, who performs under the moniker ppoacher ppoacher. “I’m trying to split it between familiar territory and places I’ve never explored.” That’s a good way to describe her musical repertoire for an upcoming tour launch event at form & concept. Brothers and her new bandmate Nathan Smerage will perform songs from the band’s 2017 debut album, along with some new material they’ve written together. She’ll also sing traditional Balkan music with Santa Fe’s Sevda Choir, which welcomed her into its ranks a few months ago. ppoacher ppoacher’s Fearsome Friend Tour Launch is on Thursday, September 6 at 7:30 pm. The gallery will ask for a $5-$25 donation in support of the artists at the door.
Brothers released her debut solo album, ppoacher ppoacher & the Concrete Dragonfly (Matron Records), last July. In the year since, she started composing new songs with Santa Fe-based musician Nathan Smerage. Both of them studied music at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and play in the band Storming the Beaches with Logos in Hand. “Nate and I were talking, and he said, ‘I think everyone should take a year off of making music and playing shows, and just listen to music,” says Brothers. It got her thinking about her college days. “My whole college career, I was slowly building the ppoacher ppoacher sound,” she says. “But I was also playing and listening to traditional music a lot more. It was really good for me.”
Earlier this summer, Brothers joined Sevda Choir and began learning ancestral songs of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, the Black Sea region, and the Mediterranean. It gave her a chance to trace the roots of an age-old musical tradition at the same time that she was finessing fresh material with Smerage. “It’s been like coming home,” Brothers says. “I’m sort of examining how I can exist with a foot in both worlds, and Sevda has really given me that.” The Fearsome Friend Tour Launch is a real-world representation of this emerging musical philosophy. Sevda Choir will kick off the concert with Brothers among them, and then she’ll split off for a set of old and new ppoacher ppoacher songs with Smerage. Soon after the event, Brothers and Smerage will hit the road. “I think it’s the best tour I’ve ever done,” says Brothers. “And this is the perfect start.”
At a special event tonight, photographer Thomas Laird will tell stories of his long-in-the-making archive of Tibetan Buddhist murals. TASCHEN published the completed volume, Murals of Tibet, earlier this year in a SUMO-sized format with gilded pages and a rare signature from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The free talk is from 5-7 pm at form & concept, but make sure to arrive a bit early if you need a seat (or want an up-close look at the book). Michael Abatemarco of Pasatiempo covered the event in an article called “Tangible Blessings.” Here’s an excerpt:
After spending a solid month editing a photograph of a mural in Tibet — one of more than 200 murals he photographed — Thomas Laird began to see the faces of tantric deities from the mural in his dreams. Then, he saw the faces everywhere. “One day, I saw the face of Tara when I looked at my wife Jann Fenner,” he writes in the introduction to his new book. “ ‘You have now spent more time studying this image,’ I said to myself, ‘than anyone except the artists who painted it 500 years ago.’ ”
Read the rest of the piece here, and make sure to check out an accompanying story by Jennifer Levin about Santa Fe’s Tibetan community. This is a tidbit from her report, titled “The Neighborhood Association“:
Monday through Friday, Tashi Gyalkhar is a staff manager in the state of New Mexico’s Human Services Department. The fast-talking thirty-six-year-old spends Saturday mornings as an assistant teacher at the Tibetan Association of Santa Fe, helping children learn the Tibetan alphabet. Gyalkhar immigrated to Santa Fe from Dharamshala, India, when she was sixteen years old, as part of a resettlement project of 1,000 Tibetans that began in the early 1990s. Her mother came first, among the first couple of dozen Tibetans to move to Santa Fe, and Gyalkhar followed with her father and older brother a few years later.
“In each city, there was an American community helping out. Here in Santa Fe, [the sponsor program] was started by Project Tibet,” she said. “People got to choose where they wanted to go. Everyone who came to Santa Fe chose it.”
Read more from Levin here, and we’ll see you tonight at Murals of Tibet with Thomas Laird! This event is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served.
There’s a brand new array of charming ceramics in the form & concept shop. Rachel Donner‘s mugs, platters, and vases come in an array of fun colors and geometric forms. Brian Gienewski is a Philadelphia-based artist with a knack for creating oozing, colorful drips of glaze on cups, tumblers, and vases. When she isn’t making porcelain blooms, Susan Beiner crafts unique, eye-catching mugs with striking color combinations. Browse some of our favorite pieces below, and click the images to see more.
Thomas Laird, the photographer behind the new TASCHEN book Murals of Tibet, will appear at form & concept this Friday at 5 pm for a special event. He’ll talk about his journey of over ten years to create this stunning archive of Tibetan Buddhist art, and offer visitors an intimate look at the SUMO-sized Collector’s Edition of the book. Murals of Tibet has been on display in the gallery’s atrium since early July, and Laird’s appearance marks its final day here.
Ahead of the event, check out this incredible video series by TASCHEN about the creation of Murals of Tibet. Above, TASCHEN introduces the book in spectacular fashion. Here’s an excerpt from the narration:
For centuries, Tibet has been seen as an island in the sky. A remote land, close to the lights, beyond the mountains. A mysterious land, where monks practiced rituals and yoga that led to wisdom and power. What if, even in our age of increased accessibility, a great treasure still remained—hidden all of these centuries? Visions from another world. Visions created to inspire, as Tibetans say, liberation upon seeing.
Over the course of five expeditions, and using multi-image capture and render technology, Thomas Laird amassed the first catalog of life-size images of more than 200 Buddhist mural masterpieces—including the oldest and most important painted during the past 1,000 years.
In this “making of” video, the editorial team discusses the design process. Managing Editor Florian Kobel says:
The murals can now be appreciated much better than on site. They have never been explored to the extent as they have been now, because the walls are 9 meters high, the lighting is terrible. You never were able to look up and study the faces.
Frank Goerhardt, TASCHEN’s global publishing director, continues:
You cannot get the picture with one photograph. It is a sum of pictures taken digitally and stitched together.
Laird sat down with Richard Gere at the Explorers Club in New York for a conversation about the making of the book. Here’s what he had to say:
I spend the day shooting hundreds of images. That’s a lovely day in Tibet, in a dark room. […] You see the Buddha when you’re done that day, but you also have a headache. Then you bring that home, and you sit down in front of a computer, and your wife puts up with you for a month or six weeks. Then you say to her, ‘It’s very nice, but it’s not proper… so I need to go back to Tibet to recapture this.
Come meet Laird and learn more about Murals of Tibet on Saturday. This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited so make sure to arrive early.
For more than a decade, American photographer Thomas Laird traversed snowy mountains, deep valleys, and desolate deserts to capture images of Tibet’s spectacular Buddhist murals. He worked with internationally renowned art book publisher TASCHEN to make Murals of Tibet, a 498-page volume that is the world’s first archive of these sacred artworks.
form & concept hosts Laird at a special event where he’ll share stories of the book’s creation, and offer visitors an up-close look at the Collector’s Edition of the book. The hardcover volume is signed by his Holiness the Dalai Lama and features Laird’s photographs in life-size resolution. The event is part of a national tour of the book by TASCHEN. It takes place at form & concept on Friday, August 31 from 5 to 7 pm. Murals of Tibet is on view at form & concept from July 12 through August 31, as part of a national tour.
“I spend the day shooting hundreds of images. That’s a lovely day in Tibet, in a dark room. […] You see the Buddha when you’re done that day, but you also have a headache,” Laird told Richard Gere at a TASCHEN event in New York earlier this year. “Then you bring that home, and you sit down in front of a computer, and your wife puts up with you for a month or six weeks. Then you say to her, ‘It’s very nice, but it’s not proper… so I need to go back to Tibet to recapture this.” Using this innovative multi-image digital photography process, Laird captured murals as wide as 10 meters in exquisite detail.
The publication of this unprecedented record of Tibetan art is so momentous that it caught the attention of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, who signed all 998 copies of the Collector’s Edition. As the Dalai Lama has explained, these murals are not just objects of beauty, but serve as points of reference and guidance for practitioners of Buddhism, yoga, and meditation, as well as for anyone seeking to incorporate mindfulness into their daily life.
Binding contemporary photographic technology with ancient traditions, this book is at once a majestic art piece, a major milestone in the appreciation of Buddhism, a precious monument to Tibetan culture, and a vital source for the contemplative arts and sciences. The SUMO-sized Collector’s Edition comes with a bookstand designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect and humanitarian pioneer Shigeru Ban.
As the murals are often massive in scale, Murals of Tibet measures 19.7 x 27.6 in. In a 528-page scholarly companion book, Buddhist writer and academic Robert Thurman takes us through this transcendent journey with detailed text on the murals’ spiritual significance while captions from experts Heather Stoddard and Jakob Winkler shed light on the storylines and artistic context of each image.