Join Matthew Mullins at a closing reception for his solo exhibition The Sun In Our Bones. His work will span form & concept’s ground floor, the second exhibition in the gallery’s two-year history 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.”
Santa Fe artist Matthew Mullins presents a solo exhibition of paintings, photographs and sculptures, inspired by the intrinsic links between humans and the natural world. Known for his mixed-media paintings that visually connect landscapes with human-made, geometric patterns, Mullins broadens his practice to encompass photography and sculpture. With this expanded artistic palette, he draws viewers across time and space—from a windswept patch of grass to the swirling cosmos.
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.”
Santa Fe musicians Caitlin Brothers and Nathan Smerage, who perform as ppoacher ppoacher on the label Matron Records, kick off the band’s new tour with a concert at form & concept. The Fearsome Friend Tour Launch will feature new songs from ppoacher ppoacher and a performance of traditional Balkan music by Santa Fe’s Sevda Choir.
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.”
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.
Brett Kern’s porcelain dinosaurs have returned.
His work always goes fast, so get one before they’re gone!
Since we first blogged about Albuquerque Museum’s American Jewelry from New Mexico—which features six designers who show in the form & concept shop—there’s been quite a lot of press coverage on the exhibition. Kate Nelson of New Mexico Magazine wrote a blog post about the show when it opened in June. Here’s an excerpt:
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.)
Learn more about the exhibition in our previous blog post, and check out work by the other form & concept artists featured in the show on our website. In addition to Baxter, form & concept designers Robert Ebendorf, Robin Waynee, Ryan Roberts, and Steven Ford & David Forlano of Ford / Forlano are all on view.
Image: Albuquerque Museum.
Native teen artists from the Soul of Nations group exhibition join Ernest Hill, executive director of Soul of Nations, for an interactive tour of the show.
It’s safe to say that the Brea Foley Art Program is one-of-a-kind. The initiative, by Washington, D.C. and Arizona-based nonprofit Soul of Nations, vaults teens from Southwestern Indigenous communities into the upper echelons of the art world. This year’s program had hundreds of applicants and 15 finalists, all between the ages of 15 and 18. Three winners jetted off to Manhattan for a residency at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Now, all of the finalists will exhibit together at form & concept gallery in Santa Fe, on the weekend of this year’s SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market. Soul of Nations opens with a reception on Friday, August 17 from 5 to 7 pm.