From Spanish and Mexican silversmiths to Navajo and Zuni jewelry makers, New Mexico has gained a reputation for finely wrought baubles. But the blending of cultures and their traditions didn’t stop there. By tracking the evolution from the 1870s to the 21st century, visitors to the Albuquerque Museum exhibit, American Jewelry from New Mexico can essentially trace the history of the state. “There is so much jewelry being created here that’s never been shown as New Mexico jewelry,” says curator Andrew Connors.
Other pieces lean more toward the outrageous. Santa Fe artist Debra Baxter created a set of silver and crystal brass knuckles from quartz and silver-plated bronze. The internationally known artist recently completed a show at Washington, D.C.’s Renwick Gallery. “It’s much more of a conceptual piece,” Connors said. “It’s about power and authority and the idea of protecting yourself.”
More recently, Grace Parazzoli covered the exhibition for Santa Fe New Mexican and also mentioned Debra’s work:
The modern pieces, like those earliest in the exhibition, are materially innovative, from Debra Baxter’s brass knuckles crowned with aqua aura quartz (2017) to Kristin Diener’s New Orleans and Alabama/Mississippi Gulf Coast Love Story: Loss and Lament: Fertility Reliquary II (2005), a reliquary that sits upon a mannequin as though it were a chastity belt. The piece’s 23 materials include toy scissors, a Route 66 guitar pick, a candy wrapper, and vintage nude photographs. (Baxter and Diener live in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, respectively; both are from the Midwest.)
Opening weekend for Armond Lara‘s Flying Blue Buffalo installation has arrived! On Thursday, August 16 at 5:30 pm, we’re hosting a preview of the installation. Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez, a Santa Fe-based scholar who is writing a book on the topic of Native slavery, will speak in our atrium under the installation. This Friday, August 17 from 5 to 7 pm, Lara will appear at form & concept for the official opening reception of the piece. In addition to the installation, a number of Lara’s artworks are on view in the gallery, along with an exhibition of Native teen artists. The final event of the weekend is an artist talk on Saturday, August 18 from 2 to 3 pm, which will take the form of a conversation between Lara and his collaborator Joseph Riggs.
Suspended from the ceiling is a herd of blue buffalo, seventy-five of them, flying on wings. The buffalo tell the story of thousands of Native American children who, from the 17th Century through the 19th, were abducted from their families and enslaved on ranches and in homes across the Southwest. The Flying Blue Buffalo installation is the creation of veteran Santa Fe artist Armond Lara, and it’s on view starting August 17 at the Santa Fe gallery, form & concept.
You can listen to two versions of the radio segment on the KUNM website— one that’s 4 minutes and one’s that 7 minutes. Both stories include this gorgeous quote from Armond:
I decided that all I would see was a cloud of blue. I thought it would be a beautiful presentation. That’s the whole philosophy for Navajo people. Walk In Beauty. It has to be in a beautiful way. It doesn’t have to be ugly, even though it is ugly. We can take the pride and the endurance of still being here. Like the buffalo.
Meanwhile, we’re deep in the installation process for Armond’s show. You can see the grid system we’re using in the photo above, which will support all of the sculptures in the piece. Come see it on opening weekend, August 16-18!
Later this month, when Armond Lara sends 75 winged buffalo sculptures into the stratosphere of form & concept’s atrium, he’ll fulfill a long-held dream. Lara has been depicting buffalo in his artwork for years, but more recently they’ve turned blue and sprouted wings. The Flying Blue Buffalo series is a reference to the Santa Fe artist’s family history: his grandmother, who was Navajo, was kidnapped as a small child and forced into servitude by a Mexican family. Across three centuries of Spanish, Mexican and American rule, thousands of Native children were similarly enslaved as household servants or field hands.
The Pueblo people called these abducted youths “Lost Bluebirds,” a symbol that Lara combined with the buffalo to create a new icon of Indigenous resilience. He dreamed up a massive installation of 75 winged buffalo sculptures, which came to fruition through a Kickstarter campaign and 3D printing technology. We’re hosting a preview of the installation on Thursday, August 16, featuring a talk by Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez of Santa Fe. The installation opens with a reception on Friday, August 17, and Lara conducts an artist talk on August 18.
“My grandmother didn’t talk much, but if she did talk, you listened,” says Lara. He’s known the story of his grandmother’s abduction for as long as he can remember, but it wasn’t until recently that he learned how common the practice was. “My sister was doing genealogy research on the family, and she found a list of all the Native American kids who had been ‘adopted’ by Mexican families in the Four Corners area,” says Lara. “It dawned on me, whoa, this is really widespread. That’s when I started asking other people about it.” He learned about the kidnapping and enslavement of an enormous number of Native American children over several centuries—from the 1600’s when the Spanish arrived, through the period of Mexican Independence, until the late 1800’s under the government of the United States. A number of Lara’s close friends revealed that they too had ancestors who were taken.
For Lara, this growing web of stories reminded him of his grandmother’s resilience, which has been an enduring source of inspiration. “I looked to my grandparents for guidance. The strongest voice was my grandmother’s voice,” Lara says. “She didn’t talk about it, she just did it. If she needed something, she’d make it. If she needed a robe, she’d weave one. I really admired that quality.” He dreamed up an art installation and storytelling project that might communicate this ethos, and inspire people to learn more about their heritage. A series of five winged blue buffalo marionettes that Lara carved from wood over a number of years became central conceptual elements.
With the help of his frequent collaborator Joseph Riggs, an artist and retired attorney who lives in Santa Fe, Lara pitched the idea to form & concept. The gallery commissioned a digital model and several mock-ups of the buffalo from Albuquerque technology firm 3D Proven Systems, while Lara and Riggs started gathering stories for the project. “We’ve represented Armond’s work for years, and were so excited to help bring his vision into reality,” says Sandy Zane, Owner of Zane Bennett Contemporary Art and form & concept. “For a project at this scale, we turned to 3D printing technology to capture the original carvings in high fidelity.” The gallery mounted a Kickstarter campaign to fund a round of 3D-printed sculptures, which were used to create molds for a final series of 75 cast resin sculptures.
Riggs says the scale of the installation is vital to the project, because it communicates the staggering number of children, families and communities affected by the issue. “I’ve lived in the Southwest my whole life, and I was unfamiliar with the story,” says Riggs. “You can’t find it in history books in New Mexico, but as I learned, there were slave markets all across this region. It became a deep part of the culture of the Southwest.” Each of the 75 buffalo sculptures will represent the story of one “Lost Bluebird,” with oral and written accounts of their fight for survival. “People in New Mexico have been searching for a way to explore this part of their family history,” Riggs says. “They can take pride in the fact that they’re Hispanic, and they’re Native American, and they’re American. There’s so much division in our country. We need to find ways to show our unity, to show how much we’re alike rather than how we’re different. And I think we can do it through this story.”
form & concept’s Annual Exhibition 2018 opens tonight from 5-7 pm! The show features work by all ten of our represented artists, including two new pieces from Mark Newport‘s Sweatermen series (above). “The Sweatermen are heroes of my own invention,” he says. “In each of these works I forge a link between childhood experience and my adult exploration of protection, masculinity, and heroism.” Michael Abatemarco of Pasatiempo covered the Annual Exhibition in this week’s Exhibitionism section. Here’s an excerpt:
Each summer in July, Form & Concept presents its Annual Exhibition featuring works by its represented artists including Heidi Brandow, Debra Baxter, and Wesley Anderegg. “From the beginning, we were interested in reimagining what an art gallery could be,” gallery director Frank Rose said. “The natural starting point was asking, ‘What’s been exhibited, and what or who has been excluded?’ ” The gallery’s roster includes artists whose works explore the diaphanous borders between art, craft, and design.
Click here to read more, and we’ll see you at the opening tonight!
Readers of Santa Fe Reporter voted us “Best Gallery” in the publication’s annual Best of Santa Fe contest! Thanks to everyone who helped boost form & concept from last year’s #2 slot, all the way to #1. Here’s what SFRhad to say about the gallery:
Paintings? Check. Music? Check. Video, sculpture, dance and pretty much any kind of contemporary awesomeness you can imagine in the Railyard Arts District? Check, check, check and check.
Click here to read more, and come celebrate with us at the form & concept Annual Exhibition 2018, opening this Friday, July 27 from 5 to 7 pm. The reception overlaps with SFR‘s annual block party, which is a short walk away in (and around) the Railyard Market Pavilion from 5 to 9 pm.
As much fun as it would be to get lost in the multiverse forever, one has to come back to reality once in awhile. While in this dimension here’s our list of the best things to do during summer in (and around) Santa Fe that will keep your journey thriving.
Happy July! We’re excited to share this lovely review of our Inner Orbit exhibition by Chelsea Weathers in The Magazine. The show explores cultural or personal visions of space, so Chelsea started her review with a childhood memory:
For most people who aren’t astronomers or astrophysicists, outer space is a nebulous concept (no pun intended). How we relate to ideas like space-time, the Big Bang, and black holes often has more to do with our immediate material surroundings than with equations and formulas. My own experience of watching Halley’s Comet involves a strong memory of the vanilla-chocolate swirl ice cream cone my father bought for me when we waited to catch a glimpse of it—a moment that I don’t remember at all. On one hand, my childhood mind grasping at quotidian details reflects an inability to comprehend the enormity of outer space. Then again, everyday human life is inextricably connected to our conceptions of the universe in ways that aren’t always grandiose. I understand the rarity of Halley’s Comet because I remember that ice cream cone.
Jaydan Moore‘s solo exhibition DUST opens tonight (Friday, 6/29, 5-7 pm), coinciding with our special reception Introducing Robin Waynee & Ryan Roberts. Jennifer Levin of Pasatiempo covered Moore’s show in a gorgeous piece titled “Fragmentary Masterpieces.” Check out a tidbit below, and make sure to read the whole article in print or online.
Moore holds a master of fine arts degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University. An exhibition of his work, DUST, opens at Form & Concept on Friday, June 29. “I like to think of these silver-plated platters as having three weird little histories, or little lies,” he said. “The platters were mass-produced, made to look like they were from the 1800s—made to look old even though most of the stuff I use is from the 1940s through the 1980s. Then, there is the silver-plated material, which is usually brass or copper. This is the platter trying to look more valuable than it really is. Thirdly, there is the wear, the care thing. Some people polish or clean it all the time, and that can be an image of the value it had to them.”
Levin’s piece ends with this dazzling quote from Moore:
“I’ve been thinking about the show title and reading about dust—about how it’s this slow accumulation of everything. You don’t notice it until it’s built up over time, and it’s something we are always trying to clean and change. But dust is valuable because it contains the environment that it is in. Dust is everything that has happened.”
We’ll see you tonight from 5 to 7 pm! Make sure to RSVP on Facebook to show your support.
form & concept has two events lined up for the weekend, and they’re not to be missed! Tonight is the closing reception for Debra Baxter’s solo exhibition Tooth & Nail (Friday, 6/15, 5-7 pm). On Saturday, we’re hosting Nathan Wheeler for an experimental music and performance piece among the artworks of Inner Orbit (Saturday, 6/16, 7-8:30 pm). Alex De Vore of Santa Fe Reporter chose Nathan’s event as a calendar pick this week. Here’s an excerpt:
Ever heard of an EMF meter? They’re those gadgets that detect electromagnetic fields or, in some cases, psychic energy and possibly ghosts. Spooky, right? But don’t be scared; New York-based multi-disciplinary artist and dancer Nathan Wheeler plans to use them for a non-spooky event.
Paul Weideman covered the performance in this week’s Pasatiempo. Here’s an excerpt:
Wheeler embarks on a communal experience with living people and perhaps with some more ethereal collaborators. One of his chief tools in this process is an instrument that can sense electromagnetic fields (EMFs). “We’ll all be sitting in a space, but basically what I’m doing is using ghost-detection circuits [EMF meters] to read the different sort of invisible energies that are in the space,” said the artist, who is known for his improvisational music and dance performances. “These circuits do things like detect electromagnetic interference and static electricity, but they also are supposed to detect ghosts.”
Learn more about both events in this blog post. We’ll see you this weekend!