Join Debra Baxter for a last look at her solo exhibition Tooth & Nailat this closing reception on Friday, June 15 from 5 to 7 pm. The show officially closes on June 16, 2018.
Baxter frequently picks up materials she’s never used before, searching for novel ways to engage the histories of sculpture, jewelry, weaponry or drapery. For Tooth & Nail, the events of the #MeToo movement have fed into her continued interest in the strength, vulnerability and the raw power of the female voice. The courage of these women has activated work with a blend of toughness and vulnerability. “These contrasting materials carry a similar spirit,” she explains. “My sculptures sometimes look delicate, but when they’re finished, they are structurally resilient.”
Debra Baxter has exhibited her sculptures and jewelry at form & concept since the gallery’s founding in May 2016. She helped lay the foundations of the gallery’s mission: to challenge preconceived notions about art, craft and design and blur their borders. “Debra is a master of what I call ‘material inversion,’” says Frank Rose, Gallery Director at form & concept. “She might pair soft materials with hard ones, or take it one step further and make a dense medium look like it’s light and flowing. She creates invigorating visual and tactile experiences, but there’s also a boundary-shattering conceptual element to the work.”
Baxter will conduct an artist talk on Saturday, May 19 from 2 to 3 pm. Tooth & Nail opens on Friday, April 27 from 5 to 7 pm, and runs through June 16, 2018.
Strangers Collective‘s Mirror Box exhibition at form & concept features zines by emerging artists and writers. A number of the zine creators will read from and discuss their work at this event on Saturday, April 7 from 3-4 pm.
Mirror Box represents a network of early career creatives, starting in Santa Fe and spiraling across the nation. Its curatorial throughline presents a radical method for reflecting on place and identity through art objects.
“The conversation is in every piece,” says David Forlano. “The input is the journey.” He and Steven Ford have collaborated for nearly four decades under the moniker Ford / Forlano, creating wearable artworks from polymer clay, sterling silver, gold leaf and many other materials. Over the years, their designs have undergone a spectacular evolution—as has the nature of their working relationship. Forlano moved to Santa Fe in 2005, putting almost 2,000 miles between the longtime collaborators. “It has actually made the work more dynamic, with an even bigger range,” Ford says. form & concept presents Introducing Ford / Forlano, featuring the artistic duo’s latest work, on Friday, February 23 from 5 to 8 pm.
Ford and Forlano met in Rome, where they were both in a study abroad program through Philadelphia’s Tyler School of Art. “We had studios next to each other, but our styles of painting and thinking about art were worlds apart,” says Forlano. “I had never met someone like him.” Forlano had a passion for color theory and aesthetics, while Ford was more focused on structure and materials. After returning from Italy, they moved into a big house with some college friends. “I think because we were in art school and hungry, we were fascinated with the opposites,” Forlano says. “It opened both of our worlds to looking at things from the perspective of the other.”
Not long after they graduated, a friend of Ford’s sparked his interest in polymer clay as an artistic medium. At the time, the material was widely considered a toy for children. Ford had studied glass art early in his college career, and was interested in applying that skill set to polymer clay artworks. He and Forlano set about experimenting with the material, using a technique called caning (known in the glass world as millefiori) to create and scale patterns in the clay. “In the beginning, we really promoted the work as ‘hey, look at this interesting material and what we can do with it.’” says Ford.
They built a successful business teaching workshops and selling polymer clay jewelry to shops and galleries across the nation. “Eventually, we found that our work was not evolving because we were teaching the same things over and over again,” Ford explains. The artistic use of polymer clay had also become more popular—in large part due to Ford and Forlano’s work—and they were looking to distinguish themselves in the burgeoning market. “We stopped teaching, which was scary,” says Ford. “But our work took off then and got really interesting.”
In 1999, Ford / Forlano began working with a metalsmith to incorporate sterling silver and other precious metals into their polymer clay designs. The move vaulted them into the world of fine jewelry. “The best galleries, the ones we had watched at craft shows for years, stopped at our booth,” says Forlano. “They said they’d been hoping we would do that for years.” Their transition from wholesale to high-end was successful, and the duo zeroed in on a signature aesthetic. “In particular, the way we use color is a voice. That’s something that I feel like kind of secures a little corner for us,” Forlano says. “I think that’s how we got to be who we are.”
Both artists like to compare their use of color to mixing paint on a palette. “Ultimately, polymer should be like paint, it’s just a material for expression,” says Ford. “I want to think about color, line and texture—all of the things that a painter thinks about.” Towards the beginning of their careers, when they’d just left art school, the duo took this quite literally. “At that time, we really had no idea what jewelry was or meant,” Forlano says. “We just made basically little paintings.”
Then came Forlano’s big move. In 2005, he decided to resettle in Santa Fe to live with his partner, actress Debrianna Mansini. “Frankly, I thought we were doomed when he did that,” says Ford. “We’d been working literally side-by-side up until that point.” Forlano cleared out his workstation in their Philadelphia studio, a building that filled an entire downtown city block, and headed Southwest.
Ford and Forlano’s ability to provide instant feedback to each other was replaced by phone calls, emails and the U.S. Postal Service. It slowed the pace of production, but took their work in compelling new directions. “When Dave moved to Santa Fe, I noticed that his colors got really desert-like and dusty,” says Ford. “I wanted cool, bright gem tones and he would send me these sandstone-looking things.”
Ford has since left their old space for a smaller studio nearby, and Forlano married Mansini not long after his move. Through transitions large and small, their collaboration has endured. “We have lots of battles, we’re kind of like an old married couple,” says Ford. “But when he says something, I understand it in a way that I don’t think many people would.” Forlano adds, “As artists, we of course bring our egos to the table. We have a voice, we want to be heard. In a really healthy collaboration, that’s not going to get pushed under the table or pushed aside. It’s going to enhance the other person’s vision.”
This special event coincides with the opening reception for Strangers Collective’s Mirror Box group exhibition. Click here to learn more about both events.
Kyle Farrell, Alex Gill and Jordan Eddy, co-directors of Strangers Collective and the No Land art space, curate this exhibition of emerging artists and writers at form & concept. The show represents a network of early career creatives, starting in Santa Fe and spiraling across the nation. Its curatorial throughline presents a radical method for reflecting on place and identity through art objects. Mirror Box opens at form & concept on Friday, February 23 from 5 to 8 pm.
“The central mission of Strangers Collective has always been to pry open wall space for emerging artists in Santa Fe’s highly competitive market,” says Farrell. “Mirror Box is a culmination of our efforts.” Strangers Collective’s past pop-up group exhibitions, spanning summer 2014 through winter 2017, appeared in diverse venues including ART.i.factory Gallery, Santa Fe Community Gallery and Center for Contemporary Arts. “In spring of 2017, we founded No Land, which is a small space on the Plaza where we curate solo exhibitions for emerging artists,” says Strangers co-director Jordan Eddy. “We found ourselves in a solid place to make another big, definitive curatorial statement, but needed a bigger venue to do it.” form & concept, where Eddy works as marketing manager by day, offered up its sprawling top floor galleries for the show.
“I was excited to set the stage for this Strangers show, because I’ve seen the project expand and contract to fit so many spaces and compelling stories,” says form & concept Gallery Director Frank Rose. “form & concept often shows emerging artists, so it made perfect sense to align our efforts and strengthen the web.” Farrell, Eddy and Gill have been working on the show for over ten months, conducting in-person studio visits in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Denver, and virtual check-ins with artists in Arizona, California, Oregon, New York, Japan and South Korea. “The collective is New Mexico-based, but our geographic range has grown as people move around to other art communities across the country,” says Gill. “Reuniting everyone for this exhibition showed us that there are still remarkably strong links between the concepts the artists are exploring.”
The term “mirror box” originates in the medical field: Vilayanur S. Ramachandran invented the box with two back-to-back mirrors in the center to help amputees manage phantom limb pain. The patient places the “good” limb into one side, and the “residual” limb into the other, making mirrored movements that can trick the brain into believing that it’s moving the phantom limb. “It’s a tribute to the incredible power of grey matter,” says Eddy. “If our minds are capable of conjuring a nervous system from thin air, can we link up with people, places or things in the same visceral but invisible way?” The curatorial team realized that art, like the mirror box, can act as a conduit for this type of transcendent—but also highly tangible—experience.
“As we turned over the idea of a ‘mirror box’ in conversation, its meaning evolved to represent a sort of theoretical art object,” says Farrell. “If you imagine a cube made from mirrors floating in a landscape, it reflects you and your surroundings across six different planes. By peering into it, you begin view identity and place in novel ways.” The show’s participants interact with the world in a similar fashion, reflecting, filtering and distorting their varied contexts to create visions of the world that are requisitely imbued with their own experiences.
“The artworks and zines are mapping out this ‘complete picture’ of an experience,” says Gill. “We’re asserting that fully realized artistic expression can communicate something truer than, say, a hasty smartphone snapshot of a particular person or place.” In an increasingly polarized world, it’s a radical act of empathy to dive through the looking glass.
Follow Strangers Collective on Instagram and Facebook for behind-the-scenes photos and stories from the curatorial process, and RSVP for Mirror Box at the link below.
Special Event Armond Lara: Flying Blue Buffalo Project
Wednesday, February 17 Open House: 2-5 pm Panel Discussion: 3 pm
Our Kickstarter campaign for Armond Lara’s Flying Blue Buffalo Project is in full swing! So far, we have 22 backers and have raised over 10% of our goal. We’re celebrating the campaign’s midpoint next Saturday, Feb. 17 with an open house and panel discussion event from 2-5 pm. The panel starts at 3 pm, and features professional and amateur historians who’ve extensively studied Native slavery in the Southwest. Like Armond, a number of the panelists have Indigenous ancestors who were enslaved. They’ll shed light on this under-examined history through conversation and storytelling. Here’s the lineup:
The creative dynamo behind the Flying Blue Buffalo Project! The Santa Fe artist is Hispanic and Navajo. A dark chapter of his family history helped inspire the project. Since starting this endeavor, he has studied the larger phenomenon of Native child slavery in the West.
Moises Gonzales is an Assistant Professor in the Community and Regional Planning Program at UNM, he also serves as the Director of the Resource Center for Raza Planning and is the Director of the Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Planning and Design Degree Program. Gonzales holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Design from the University of Colorado, Denver as well as a Professional Planning Degree in the Master of Community and Regional Planning Program from UNM. He was the co-instructor for the summer urban studio that worked with students on the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo cultural corridor and he is still currently involved with this project. Moises will also be advising on the historic restoration plaza project for Nambe Pueblo and has also advised iD+Pi on the potential housing assessment project with the Santa Clara Housing Authority.
With ancestral connections to both Hispanic and indigenous communities, Dr. Rael-Gálvez was raised working on a farm and ranch stewarded by his family for generations in Costilla, New Mexico. He holds a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he completed an award winning dissertation, “Identifying Captivity and Capturing Identity: Narratives of American Indian Slavery. ” He is currently working on the manuscript, The Silence of Slavery. Formerly the State Historian of New Mexico, Executive Director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center and Senior Vice President at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Dr. Rael-Gálvez currently is a writer and the founding principal of Creative Strategies 360°, a consulting firm which supports transformative work within communities and organizations, including his present project, an initiative on “Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation.”
When I started storytelling, it was the first time these stories were told by a Navajo person. That was thirty years ago. Since then, I’ve worked – as a storyteller, folklorist and cultural consultant – collecting, learning and retelling the oral tradition of the Diné Hozhojii Hané (Navajo Blessingway stories). These stories present the world view of the Diné people and details their relationship with their surroundings. I have retold these stories by oral tradition in Navajo and in English for a variety of organizations, universities, elementary schools and conferences throughout the US, Canada, Africa, Europe and Mexico including the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, the Denver Arts Museum, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISDI) and programs sponsored by the PEW Charitable Trust.
I was the Olive B. O’Connor Distinguished Visiting Professor of Literature and Storyteller-in-Residence at Colgate University and one of nine women, and the only Native storyteller to be included in the Women’s Chautauqua Institute. In 2006, I received the Navajos Making a Difference Award at the annual Navajo Studies conference. I am on the roster of the NMHC Chautauqua Speakers Program, which features specialists on New Mexico history and culture. I have done storytelling workshops with students and teachers (in New York schools) and seniors (at the northern Navajo Medical Center. A few years ago, I founded the Hané Storytelling Festival for indigenous storytellers. I was featured in Jack Hanna’s Zoo Life, the German documentary, Niedergang der Najavos and Miss Navajo, a PBS Independent Lens documentary, in which I spoke about winning the 1982 Miss Navajo Nation pageant that celebrates women and tradition.
Kim Trujillo is from Belen, NM. She received a BA degree in journalism from NMSU. She is a former news anchor in Albuquerque at KRQE-TV. She is currently working in NM film as a costume designer. She is featured on Ancestry.com commercial that has aired more than 12,000 times over the last two years nationally and in Canada.
Joseph Riggs is an artist from Northern New Mexico, currently residing in Tesuque, NM. He is a retired criminal defense attorney, having practiced law for 40 years and Albuquerque and Northern New Mexico. In addition to his art, he is collaborating with Armond Lara on Lara’s Flying Blue Buffalo Project. His other interests include community activism as Project Manager of the Santa Fe Artists Medical Fund, and as President of the Tesuque Water Association Board.
Weston Brownlee is the Director of Operations at 3D Proven Systems, and a professional sculptor. His current work in the realms of digital art, 3D Modeling, 3D Scanning, and 3D Printing, when paired with his background in lost wax casting, foundry, and traditional cast arts all have come into play to help realize Armand Lara’s Flying Blue Buffalo Project.
“Somehow in my mind, in my being, I felt I needed permission.”
Before carving the original Flying Blue Buffalo, Armond journeyed to Colorado to find a herd in the wild. His encounter with the buffalo gave him the inspiration to begin the ambitious installation and storytelling project.
The Flying Blue Buffalo Project will feature 75 cast resin sculptures crafted under Armond’s supervision. The Installation will debut this August. Support our Kickstarter campaign to learn more about the project and collect exclusive Flying Blue Buffalo artwork.
On Saturday, February 17 at 3 pm, Lara will conduct a panel discussion with Moises Gonzales, Estevan Rael-Gálvez, Sunny Dooley, Kim Trujillo, Joseph Riggs, and Weston Brownlee.
As Thais Mather’s critically acclaimed solo exhibition Reckless Abandon approaches its closing date, join her for a final public engagement on Friday, February 2 from 5 to 7 pm. The Magazine just published a fantastic review of the show by Diane Armitage in their February/March relaunch issue. Here’s an excerpt:
There are many threads to follow in Reckless Abandon: from images of Stone Age fertility goddesses; to the Walpurgisnacht, or Witches’ Sabbath, a performance of hellish and deafening heavy metal music played in a cave-like room and accompanying a video of fire projected on a large bowl of water; to the life-size wooden figure of a woman burnt from head to toe. This latter sculpture, Mine and Thine, along with the charred bust Thaumaturge, (a miracle worker or a magician), are the two most powerful works in Mather’s exhibition. The presence of the blackened figure, laid out as if on a burial slab, sucks all the energy out of the room it was installed in, just as it was intended to do. It’s a timeless reminder that women, along with men, are due for a ritual funeral pyre whereby the darkest aspects of our collective history are dematerialized and transformed into a more enlightened chapter of human behavior in the evolution of consciousness. How else can the phoenix rise from the oppressive ashes of history and say, “I can just leave you… Now I can just fly away”?
Read the rest of the review here, and come see Reckless Abandon at the closing reception tonight. The exhibition officially ends on February 10.
As Thais Mather’s critically acclaimed solo exhibition Reckless Abandon approaches its closing date, join her for a final public engagement on Friday, February 2 from 5 to 7 pm. Light refreshments will be served. Reckless Abandon runs through February 10, 2018.
“I think people are getting these catastrophic feelings, that this is the end,” says Thais Mather. “I don’t believe in that. I think this is a beginning.” The feminist artist’s new exhibition, Reckless Abandon, comes at a time of cultural, political and environmental upheaval. It’s an ideal moment to examine human history from a revolutionary stance—and present urgent questions that can reveal a new path forward. Through a monumental art installation and an interconnected series of performances and events, Mather will challenge viewers to abandon patriarchal structures in favor of a transcendent vision for humanity.
The fundraiser will go towards the creation of a monumental installation of cast resin Flying Blue Buffalo sculptures in the gallery’s atrium, based on a series of wood carvings by Lara. Inspired by the Santa Fe artist’s family history, this project tells the centuries-long story of enslaved Native American children. It’s a topic that hit the front page of the New York Times this weekend, in an article by Simon Romero. Here’s an excerpt:
Lenny Trujillo made a startling discovery when he began researching his descent from one of New Mexico’s pioneering Hispanic families: One of his ancestors was a slave.
“I didn’t know about New Mexico’s slave trade, so I was just stunned,” said Mr. Trujillo, 66, a retired postal worker who lives in Los Angeles. “Then I discovered how slavery was a defining feature of my family’s history.”
Mr. Trujillo is one of many Latinos who are finding ancestral connections to a flourishing slave trade on the blood-soaked frontier now known as the American Southwest. Their captive forebears were Native Americans — slaves frequently known as Genízaros (pronounced heh-NEE-sah-ros) who were sold to Hispanic families when the region was under Spanish control from the 16th to 19th centuries. Many Indian slaves remained in bondage when Mexico and later the United States governed New Mexico.
The revelations have prompted some painful personal reckonings over identity and heritage. But they have also fueled a larger, politically charged debate on what it means to be Hispanic and Native American.
Lara’s studies of this little-told history lead to the conception of the Flying Blue Buffalo, a new symbol of Indigenous survival and resilience. The Flying Blue Buffalo Project Kickstarter campaign launched on January 26 and runs through February 28. Mock-ups of the buffalo sculptures will appear at a February 17 open house event, and Lara will convene a panel of history experts to discuss the project and its themes. The installation will debut in form & concept’s atrium on August 17, 2018, and run through November 2018.