Reckless Abandon: A Reading

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At this special event, Thais Mather will read excerpts from writings that span two years of her creative process, which culminated in the body of work for Reckless Abandon.

“I’m really contemplating humanity: how culture began, where we are now, and where that might evolve,” says Mather. Reckless Abandon comprises hundreds of artworks that will fill form & concept’s ground floor, tracing thousands of years of natural and human history.

Reckless Abandon opens at form & concept on Friday, November 24, 2017 from 5-7 pm, and runs through February 18, 2018.

Reckless Abandon Events

Opening Reception | Friday, November 24, 2017 from 5-7 pm — RSVP on Facebook
Reckless Abandon: A Reading | Saturday, November 25, 2-3 pm — RSVP on Facebook
Reckless Abandon: Performance | Friday, December 15, 5-7 pm — RSVP on Facebook

Learn more about this exhibition.

Part of the proceeds from Thais Mather: Reckless Abandon will benefit the ACLU of New Mexico and the Sierra Club’s Rio Grande Chapter

Teaser: Broken Boxes | Miyuki Baker

“We can put ourselves out there and try our hardest, and work really, really passionately about the things that we love and care about. But […] the minute we start to latch onto what that might turn into, I think that’s when we start to lose the potency.”

-Miyuki Baker

Broken Boxes, an exhibition curated by Ginger Dunnill and Cannupa Hanska Luger, features Miyuki Baker and 40 other creators from around the world who are effecting change in their work. All of the participants have appeared on Dunnill’s Broken Boxes Podcast.

There will be a catalog realease event at form & concept on Friday, September 29 from 5-7 pm. Click here to learn more, and make sure to RSVP on Facebook.

Studio Visit: Robert Ebendorf

“It’s about not being afraid to put diamonds and pearls with broken glass and bone,” says Robert Ebendorf. The master jeweler’s mixed-media philosophy comes from nearly six decades of working with found objects. When you’re a self-proclaimed “gleaner,” life is an endless treasure hunt. Ebendorf’s innovative work has landed in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Now he’s form & concept’s newest represented artist. We visited Ebendorf’s studio to talk about his remarkable career, philosophy of design and day-to-day studio practice.

How did people react to your initial work with found objects in the 1960’s? 

I was in the forest by myself for quite a while, in a sense. I made such a radical swing from making jewelry with silver and stones—I was never big with gold and diamonds. So when that was happening, I kept thinking “Who’s going to be interested in this work?” I had to contemplate that and make that choice. I stayed with it an pursued it.

The thing is, I have been very blessed. Because I was a teacher at a university, I got a paycheck every month and that helped my studio practice. I could venture into the unknown and uncover my imagination.

Robert Ebendorf Jewelry- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Robert Ebendorf, Lucky Fish Necklace, mixed-media, $850.

You’ve been a teacher for over 50 years. Could you reflect a bit on that experience?

One part of my journey has been mentoring. It’s been a gift to be that involved with young, enthusiastic minds. I was locked into a time zone of 22 years old to 29 years old. Each year I got older, I don’t know about any wiser, but I was locked into that time zone. I realized there was a lot of juice there. A lot of problem solving. Looking back on it, I realize it had a wonderful benefit of being with young people as they creatively try to find their way.

How do you organize your space?

If you look closely at my workbench, I try to make order out of chaos. Now, chaos is all this stuff in front of me. But order is designing, putting colors and textures together. What I call order, you might think doesn’t make any sense. It’s ugly.

There are certain tools I must find and put back on the rack exactly where they belong, so when I’m ready I can go back and it’s there. So I guess there is an order. My beloved wife looks at it, and says, “I don’t see any order.”

Robert Ebendorf Jewelry- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Robert Ebendorf, Sea Spoon Brooch, mixed-media, $385.

You call yourself a “gleaner.” What does that mean to you?

When I’m walking, I’m picking things up and I’m putting things in my fanny-pack. At the seafood restaurant I might gather the claws from the table and bring them home. And in a month, I come back and begin to make a brooch out of it. 

Gleaning, finding the discard, I find very enjoyable. When I’m gathering things, I come home, lay them out, clean them, put everything in the right order. It’s my kind of meditative playfulness. There’s something about gleaning that’s been in my DNA since I was a small child.

What sorts of things did you collect when you were growing up in Kansas? 

I would go down the alleys with my little wagon. In Kansas, it was a dry state, but I’d go through trash cans and find liquor bottles and go, “Oh, they’re naughty. They drink.” I’d take these things back to my garage. It was a very early sense of gathering and gleaning objects.

Robert Ebendorf Jewelry- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Robert Ebendorf, Yellow Oval Earring, mixed-media, $75.

I know your gleaning translates into a more holistic life philosophy for you. You speak about the objects you find with really powerful compassion. 

I often make reference to the fact that this has been discarded, someone ran over it, it’s been thrown in the dumpster, it’s on the way to the landfill. I enjoy reconstructing it into my world and bringing it out into the universe for another life, another journey. There’s something about putting it back out in another configuration that’s very caring.

 Color and composition are foundational to your process. What’s the lesson there?

I just did a workshop with 15 people. A lot of the other workshops at the conference are about technique. Everybody was eager to take a technique home. My group came together and made postcards. I wanted them to take paper, and collage their story together. What I’m trying to share with them is that they can be open to ideas and not be precious. Make mistakes, circle back around.

I was pushing and pulling with them to be more observant and also more loose and open. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. It comes back to the playfulness.

Robert Ebendorf Jewelry- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Robert Ebendorf, Shell Ring, mixed-media, $325.

Do you find yourself puzzling over the lifespan of the objects that you find? Where have these objects traveled before they reach you? 

It’s interesting. This piece of copper that I buy in a sheet, I think, “How many lives did this piece of copper have?” It could have been stolen in the sixteenth century— a copper goblet—and then pilfered and taken away, then cut up and melted down, and hammered and maybe made into a tray, or a knife handle. How many different lives? How many wedding rings, or lockets? And now I have it here, and I can hammer it, I can bend it, I can melt it. That’s the magic about that.

There’s a dichotomy in your work, between craft techniques that have been passed down for generations and this radical, avant-garde use of materials. 

There is that dichotomy in my work. Maybe that’s why they call me the outlaw. But I do work hard to honor the craft. The workshops were a little different then, but we have the same tools. Fire, melting, hammering. I go to the museums and I look at these pieces that were done in Italy or Nigeria and I think, “These are my brothers and sisters. They are a part of my family.”

When I lecture, I talk about that a lot. It’s something that I honor and feel very joyful about. My grandfather was German. My grandmother was Swiss. They had their own mom-and-pop tailor store.

I remember being 9 years old and watching my grandmother cutting the pattern, getting ready to do button holes. My grandfather pulling out the fabric. Connect the dots. Measuring. Stitching. Fitting. Getting everything perfect. So I do come from a family of makers. Craftsmanship and honoring that—and getting that across to the students—is a biggie.

Robert Ebendorf Jewelry- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Robert Ebendorf, Spool Pendant, sterling silver, copper, $375.

The places you’ve lived—from North Carolina to Kansas to Norway—have such interesting and diverse craft histories. What are some of the things you learned from journeys? 

I left the University of Kansas on a Fulbright to Norway, and then I went back as a Tiffany Grant honoree for another year, and then another as a guest designer. I think that during the Scandinavian design sensibility was coming into the United States in the 1950s. The highly polished silver bowls. Old textiles. Ceramics. Glass blowing.

Living there and going to school under the leadership of those craftsmen really honed me down into the “do it the right way” philosophy. I learned design sensibility and understood the beauty of the craftsmanship. Things being made just perfect.

When I got back, I did high-end commissions for presidents of universities and things for the temple or the church. Highly polished. I started feeling stifled. I was stuck in this one dance. It was very much a result of the Norwegian love affair. That’s when I started to peel the onion and become comfortable. Those were important years. They were the foundation.

When you’re in the process of composing a piece, how do you know it’s finished?

If I was being critical, I’d say I have a problem with editing. I have the tendency to overload. But I like it that way. 

That would be my main criticism of my work. More doesn’t always make the piece stronger. Like, do I put pearls here, here, and here. Or just one? I’m constantly struggling with that. 

Robert Ebendorf Jewelry- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Robert Ebendorf, Lager Brooch, mixed-media, $485.

You’re totally shaking up the hierarchy of objects, and the perceived value of different materials. 

My work is not about intrinsic value. The value is my sense of design and my language. 

When the Victoria & Albert Museum selected a piece of mine that’s on permanent display in their historic jewelry collection, it was nothing more than a paper necklace with decoupaged paper from the street and gold foil. It was not about something having high-end stones and precious metals. It was about celebrating design, and making a personal statement.

Click here to view more of Robert Ebendorf’s work, and stop by the form & concept shop to try it on!

Robert Ebendorf- Working in his Jewelry Studio- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Summer Artist Talk: Armond Lara

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Painter and sculptor Armond Lara continues form & concept’s Summer Artist Talks series, and reveals plans for a monumental sculpture project he will complete in collaboration with numerous artists over the coming year. The talk takes place during form & concept’s One-Year Anniversary Exhibition, featuring new artwork from all of the gallery’s represented artists.

Biography

Armond Lara was born in 1939 in Denver, Colorado and raised in Walsenburg, a coal mining town in southeastern Colorado. His mother was of Navajo descent and his father was Mexican. He was educated at the Colorado Institute of Art and Glendale College in California and also attended the University of Washington in Seattle where he was influenced by Japanese master paper artist, Paul Horuechi. He also worked with Mexican muralist Pablo O’Higgins, Richard Diebenkorn and Helen Frankenthaler.

Lara’s paintings and drawings often incorporate handmade paper, found objects and mixed media including traditional Navajo beadwork that has been sewn on to the canvas. His carved marionettes of historical cultural figures such as Crazy Horse, Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, Man Ray and Billy the Kid, among others, are created in the spirit of the Koshare, the sacred clown that participates in the religious dances of the Rio Grande Pueblo People. Known as a mischief maker, the Koshare clown helps maintain harmony in the community by reminding people of acceptable standards of behavior. Through this vehicle, Lara is able to portray the humor, tragedy, frustration and beauty of what it means to be human.

After years of working in the aerospace industry in Seattle and then in arts administration, Lara helped to establish the 1% for the ARTS Program in Seattle, Washington in 1973, which was one of the first cities in the US to adopt funding for public art. When Lara relocated to Santa Fe in the 1980s, he participated in his first Indian Market where Georgia O’Keeffe purchased two of his works, one of which was gifted to the Smithsonian. In 1996 Lara founded the Santa Fe Artist Emergency Medical Fund which has been one of the many factors contributing to his reputation as a leader in the arts not only for Native Peoples but for all artists. Armond Lara is in museum collections worldwide.

Click here to browse Armond’s artwork.

Summer Artist Talks Schedule

In its first year, form & concept has emphasized powerful and diverse storytelling through its exhibition schedule and programs. The gallery’s roster of represented artists has been steadily growing, making for a dynamic One-Year Anniversary Exhibition (May 26-October 22, 2017). The majority of form & concept’s represented artists will speak, along with several guest artists.

Matthew Mullins & Wesley Anderegg | 5/27/17, 2-3 pm
Heidi Brandow | 6/3/17, 2-3 pm
Heather Bradley | 6/10/17, 2-3 pm
NoiseFold | 6/17/17, 2-3 pm*
Rebecca Rutstein | 7/1/17, 2-3 pm
Elana Schwartz | 7/8/17, 2-3 pm
Debra Baxter | 7/15/17, 2-3 pm
Jared Weiss | 7/22/17, 2-3 pm*
Robert Ebendorf | 8/12/17, 2-4 pm
Armond Lara | 8/20/17, 2-3 pm
Broken Boxes Artists & Curators Panel Discussion | 8/20/17, 3-4 pm*


*Guest artists. All other participants are form & concept represented artists.

Artist Spotlight: Heather Bradley

Heather Bradley Ceramics- Innominate Series- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Heather Bradley‘s new art installation, innominate, is a centerpiece of our One-Year Anniversary Exhibition. Heather perched red and white pottery on small shelves that span a 30-foot stretch of wall. Between the vessels are sheets of porcelain with diary entries scrawled on them, and words painted directly on the wall in elegant cursive.

The words hint at innominate‘s deeply personal story arc: “body,” “wound,” “heal” and “scar” are among them. The pottery is titled after the human body as well, with three distinct series dubbed Arterial, Spinal and Handheld. Heather was inspired to write a new artist statement after completing the series. Read her words below, and keep your eye out for a forthcoming video and blog post that explores the story behind innominate. 

My hands have been in clay now for 22 years. They’ve grown more and more adept at predicting the behavior of the clay and manipulating it into the forms I want. Now, my hands are also essential to my job.  I recently received my license as a massage therapist, and this new endeavor has been making me think of my ceramic work in a whole new light.

I think of my pots as frozen moments in time, almost literally. The clay goes from a sloppy wet, flowing substance to a dry, solid, more permanent object so quickly. Whatever I bring to the potter’s wheel on any given day is materialized into the work.

Heather Bradley Ceramics- Spinal Series- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

The way in which I approach a massage table is very similar to the way in which I approach my potter’s wheel. I must be very conscious of my own mental state, my thoughts, and my own body when giving a massage. I must watch my breath, be super-attentive to the placement of my fingers, and the angle of my neck when giving massage. 

My experience as a massage therapist has begun informing my art work in various ways. I find myself thinking of the necks of pots as vertebral columns, wedging the clay using the body mechanics I was taught in deep tissue class, and using my palpation skills to find air bubbles and imperfections. 

Heather Bradley Ceramics- Arterial Series- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Most significantly, being a massage therapist has taught me more about proprioception – the awareness of one’s own body, one’s own sense of how they occupy space. I’m now approaching my clay with a greater sense of self, my body, and in particular, my hands, and what they can feel.  

I believe the more and more I can truly be present and embodied, the more the work will flow honestly through me and carry a sense of the moment in which it was created.

Heather Bradley Ceramics- Handheld Series- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Click here to browse all of Heather’s work on our website, and make sure to come see her innominate installation. It’s on view through October 22, as part of our One-Year Anniversary Exhibition. Stay tuned for a studio visit video and blog, where Heather will reveal her inspiration for the innominate series.

Summer Artist Talk: Heidi Brandow

Multi-disciplinary artist Heidi Brandow continues form & concept’s Summer Artist Talks series. She will speak about her artwork on Saturday, June 3, 2-3 pm. The talk takes place during form & concept’s One-Year Anniversary Exhibition, featuring new artwork from all of the gallery’s represented artists.

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Biography

“Heidi K. Brandow likes to explore the juxtaposition of things that are familiar and safe with those that might make us feel less comfortable, reflecting the mix of the positive and negative that appears in everyone’s life.” says the Albuquerque Journal North. Brandow is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work is commonly filled with whimsical characters and monsters that are often combined with words of poetry, stories, and personal reflections. Hailing from a long line of Native Hawaiian singers, musicians and performers on her mother’s side and Diné storytellers and medicine people on her father’s side, she finds that her pursuit of an artistic career came natural. Drawing her inspiration from everyday life, Brandow’s work concerns discovering, defining, and redefining personal identity by questioning authority and deconstructing mainstream assumptions of Native Americans. Brandow’s work engages personal, cultural, and historical experiences while incorporating perspectives of critical theory.

Brandow is a part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chatanooga, Tennessee, and the Luciano Benetton Collection in Italy. She is a featured artist in the School of Advanced Research (SAR) publication “Art in Our Lives: Native Artist Women in Dialogue. Heidi K. Brandow is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA and has studied design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Istanbul Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey.

Browse Heidi’s artwork.

Summer Artist Talks Schedule

In its first year, form & concept has emphasized powerful and diverse storytelling through its exhibition schedule and programs. The gallery’s roster of represented artists has been steadily growing, making for a dynamic One-Year Anniversary Exhibition (May 26-October 22, 2017). The majority of form & concept’s represented artists will speak, along with several guest artists.

Matthew Mullins & Wesley Anderegg | 5/27/17, 2-3 pm
Heidi Brandow | 6/3/17, 2-3 pm
Heather Bradley | 6/10/17, 2-3 pm
NoiseFold | 6/17/17, 2-3 pm*
Rebecca Rutstein | 7/1/17, 2-3 pm
Elana Schwartz | 7/8/17, 2-3 pm
Debra Baxter | 7/15/17, 2-3 pm
Jared Weiss | 7/22/17, 2-3 pm*
Armond Lara | 8/20/17, 2-3 pm
Broken Boxes Artists & Curators Panel Discussion | 8/20/17, 3-4 pm*

*Guest artists. All other participants are form & concept represented artists.

In Process: New Treasures

Victor Atyas and Brian Fleetwood- Jewelry Design- Form and Concept Gallery
Victor Atyas holds a wearable work of art by Brian Fleetwood.
Both designers spoke at form & concept for our In Process event on May 6.

Our recent event for the form & concept shop, In Process: Artist Jewelry Talks, made for an inspiring Saturday earlier this month. The six participating jewelers set up tiny versions of their studios in the gallery’s atrium, and took turns discussing their design methods with visitors. It was a delight to see the artists interact with each other and the audience, asking questions and trading ideas.

Each designer also came bearing new treasures for the form & concept shop. Look below for photos and quotes from the In Process talks, and fresh designs by each of the artists. Make sure to mark your calendar for the next In Process event on Saturday, July 29. We’ll announce more details on the event shortly.

DEBRA BAXTER

Debra Baxter- Jewelry Artist Talk- Santa Fe New Mexico

“I’ve realized how powerful objects are on the body—and not just for decoration. There’s a whole history of objects on the body being imbued with power, like talismans and amulets. I became obsessed with rocks and minerals, so I was trying to figure out how to wear them in the most simple, elegant way.”

Debra Baxter Jewelry- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Debra Baxter, Labradorite in Bronze Necklace, $445.

BUNNY TOBIAS

Bunny Tobias- Jewelry Artist Talk- Santa Fe New Mexico

“I make bronze jewelry using bronze metal clay, which was originally invented by Mitsubishi in Japan. They suspend tiny particles of the metal in an organic binder, and it feels like clay. I am originally a clay artist, so it was very easy for me to get into working with bronze metal clay. After you’ve made the form, it’s fired in a digital kiln and the binder burns out. The metal particles blend together to form a solid mass. What comes out is pure, solid bronze.”

Bunny Tobias Jewelry- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Bunny Tobias, Bronze Swarovski Crystal Klimt Triangle Pendant Necklace, $765.

BRIAN FLEETWOOD

Brian Fleetwood- Jewelry Artist Talks- Santa Fe New Mexico

“I have a background in biology, so I think about my work as behaving like a living thing. I think of the materials that I make the work out of as a resource for the work to exploit. I’m always trying to find new materials to make work out of.”

Brian Fleetwood Jewelry- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Brian Fleetwood, Rubber Anemone Brooch (Red), $180.

CHARLES GREELEY

Charles Greeley- Jewelry Artist Talks- Santa Fe New Mexico

“I met a woman who had a Japanese paper company in Albuquerque. She offered me a show, if I would make my collages with her paper. Ever since then, I’ve concentrated on using Japanese paper. At some point my stack of scrap papers was so thick, that I decided to find a way to use the scraps. That’s how I came up with the earrings.”

Charles Greeley Jewelry- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Charles Greeley, Japanese Paper & Balsa Wood Earrings, $40.

VICTOR ATYAS

Victor Atyas- Jewelry Artist Talks- Santa Fe New Mexico

“I make three-dimensional constructed gold and silver pieces, which can be worn or framed and hung on a wall. I immigrated to the United States when I was 20, and got my doctorate in psychology at the University of Rhode Island. That’s when I started taking night courses at RISD, for jewelry design. That was the beginning.”

Victor Atyas Jewelry- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Victor Atyas, Sterling Silver Cuff with Bridge, $950.

DANNY HART

Danny Hart- Jewelry Artist Talks- Santa Fe New Mexico

“In terms of inspiration and process, wood has been my medium from day one. With so much of what I make, I go through four, five, six, seven iterations before I come to a design that I can start repeating and subtly changing. So much of my work comes about by necessity, and by solving a problem that’s presented to me. I learned that from my days in the School of Architecture at University of New Mexico. Here’s the brief, how are you going to solve it?”

Danny Hart Jewelry- Form and Concept-Santa Fe New Mexico
Danny Hart, Redwood Black Acrylic Bird Head Pendant, $85.

Artist Interview: Wesley Anderegg

You could call Wesley Anderegg‘s earthenware figures superheroes, though they’re (mostly) not the kind with masks or capes. Anderegg depicts everyday heroes, and their gap-toothed grins are evidence of their grit. “They’ve been through some hard knocks, but they are survivors, still doing their thing day in and day out,” the California artist says.

Anderegg is originally from Arizona, and started his art career making functional ceramics. He’s a lifelong people watcher, so his subject matter inevitably shifted into the figurative realm. Watch our video interview above, and scroll down to read the full conversation and learn how Anderegg developed his idiosyncratic sculptural style.

Speaking of superheroes, form & concept celebrates its first anniversary on May 26 with a Superhero Masquerade. Anderegg will appear at the opening, and his work will be on view in our One-Year Anniversary Exhibition. Make sure to wear a superhero costume to the event, which will feature a costume contest and VIP cereal bar (costume required for VIP cereal bar entry).

Wesley Anderegg Sculpture- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Wesley Anderegg, Shoe Salesman, ceramic, wood, steel, 31 x 12 x 12 in.

Did you make art when you were a kid? 

No, I wasn’t an artsy kid. Not at all. I was a baseball player, beer drinker and motorcycle racer growing up.

Do you think growing up in Arizona has influenced your ceramics work? 

The desert colors definitely influenced me. My palette is always earthen colors. I don’t go for crazy magenta, it’s just all ochres and red irons and black. That’s more my palette.

So you’ve always resisted using bright colors?

Yep. If it’s too bright, I run the other way. Lemon yellow is not going to happen. I gotta make it ochre, you know?

Wesley Anderegg Sculpture- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Wesley Anderegg, Queue, earthenware, 16 x 32 x 8 in.

You studied geology for your undergraduate degree. When did art enter the picture? 

I was working on the oil fields up in Wyoming, and I had all of these miserable jobs. My mom said, ‘Why don’t you go to school?’ I said, ‘Sure, sign me up.’ She signed me up and she picked my major, and that was it. She thought I could become a schoolteacher and I’d have a decent job.

I was a junior when I took a ceramics class as an elective, and that was it. I knew. That was the first art class I’d ever had in my whole life. I was petrified going in there, because I thought, ‘Everybody’s going to be so good, and I don’t know anything.’ Everybody was a beginner, so I felt right at home.

Why do you think you fell in love with ceramics so quickly? 

I’ve got super good hand-eye coordination, from sports. I’m really good with my hands. The clay, it came easier to me than probably most people. I worked really hard, too. I loved it. I made more work my first semester than the rest of the class combined. I was in there all night, every night of the week, just learning how to throw on the potter’s wheel. I wanted to learn how to do it.

So you graduated with a degree in geology. How did you start your career as an artist? 

Every summer, I would go to California and I’d live in my van on the beach. I’d save up $500, and I’d get in my ’65 Volkswagen van and I’d drive it over to California, and I’d live on the streets in my van at the beach. While I was doing that, I realized that I didn’t want any kind of straight job. I didn’t want to be in the mainstream of America.

I thought, ‘If I could just make pots and have a little shack by the beach and maybe sell something here or there, that sounds great.’ When I graduated, I just set up a studio and went to work.

Wesley Anderegg Sculpture- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Wesley Anderegg, Man with Sleepy Dog, earthenware, 13 x 12.5 x 8 in.

Did you have any reservations about diving straight into it? 

I was young and naive. The doubts didn’t even enter my mind. I said, ‘I’m going to make this work, come hell or high water. I’m just going to do this.’ But I also knew that I had to make a product that sold. When I was starting out, I was trying to make stuff that people liked.

I just put all that money away, and after about 7 years I was totally sick of being this little machine and pumping out these pots. So I started making the figurative stuff. I started pinching these little cups with faces on them.

Tell us more about the early figurative work. 

When me and my wife first started going out, we would go to the bar and we would drink kamikazes and stuff like that. I started making these shot glasses that had these crazy faces on them and were all bent up. Before that, all I had ever done was throw on the potter’s wheel.

The faces were really ugly, but I kind of liked them ugly. So did everybody else. They were really gnarly, and I was kind of angst-ridden, and I wanted to express my gnarly-isms, you know? People liked them, so I just took off on those. They even had the funky teeth and everything back then. I didn’t want anything cutesy.

At some point after that, I stopped making cups and they became sculpture.

Wesley Anderegg Sculpture- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Wesley Anderegg, Swimming For It (Sharks), earthenware, 12 x 36 x 8 in.

Why were the original pieces so grotesque? 

I was an angry young man. I had a lot of stuff I wanted to get out. It was therapy, you know? It was a cathartic process to vent all this stuff.

They were autobiographical, and emotionally how I was feeling. How do you explain feeling like you’re being torn apart? You actually tear somebody apart. Or I had people sucking my blood. I would create mosquitoes and ticks, making that reference of people sucking you dry. All these little narratives were filtering through my work.

Were any of them portraits? 

Some of them are based on real people, like heroes or interesting folks. A lot of them represent me, but emotionally what I’m doing or going through.

A lot of your figures are in danger!

They often are in peril. That’s what I’m drawn to. I like characters. The beautiful people don’t interest me at all. I like the funky people, and the people that are going to tell you just what they think. Those are the people I gravitate towards.

Wesley Anderegg Sculpture- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Wesley Anderegg, Strawberry Lady, earthenware, 9 x 4 x 4 in.

Tell us about your studio.

We live on a 22-acre ranch in the middle of nowhere in California. My studio is a 10-stall horse barn that is 60 x 40 feet. It’s 2,400 square feet on the bottom floor, and then there’s a second story. It’s a wonderful structure.

Does it feel like you always have a little audience, with all of your work surrounding you? 

Sometimes there’s more of a crowd depending on how much work’s around. Everybody’s got eyes, and everybody’s hanging out. It doesn’t bother me, but I think some people get creeped out by it.

Speaking of the eyes, they’re so realistic! Why are the faces and bodies so stylized, while the eyes have this realism to them? 

The eyes take me time. I do it for two reasons. One is because I like the reality of it. Two, people think you know what you’re doing after you’re technically tight enough. The rest of my work can be pretty loose, but I let people know that I’m doing this looseness because I want to. I’m going to give you some tightness here in the eyes, just for you.

Wesley Anderegg Sculpture- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Wesley Anderegg, Flying Date, earthenware, 21 x 22 x 10 in.

 What’s the range of reactions you get to your work? 

There’s all kinds of reactions. Some people get the humor and laugh, and other people punch their partner and say, ‘Oh god, look at this shit, man! Bleeeeh!’ You can tell if they get it or if they don’t, it’s really funny. I like it that way, because it means that you’re not middle-of-the-road.

My wife is a potter. She makes beautiful pottery. When we were on a residency at Anderson Ranch Art Center, people would come in our studio and would either walk right past my work and talk to Donna, or they would ignore Donna and talk to me about my work. There was nobody who liked us both.

How would you boil down your artistic philosophy?

Everything that I try to put out there is genuine to me. It’s my stuff, I’m not looking for other influences. I’m just trying to talk to people about my existence.

Generally, I think that as people, we have so much in common but nobody really thinks we do. We’ve all been heartbroken, we’ve all lost loved ones. All different circumstances, but we all share all these emotions. That’s all part of being human, you know? We share that. How do you express that, and relay that to people?

We’re so much more alike than we are different, but nobody wants to talk about that, especially in today’s climate. You don’t think exactly like I do, but I’m sure we could agree on something.

Do your works look like you? 

If you look at me, you’ll see the resemblance. Actually I have really good teeth, but my face is pretty haggard. I’ve got way too many wrinkles already, but that’s just the way it goes. (laughs)

Come meet Wesley Anderegg at our Superhero Masquerade: One-Year Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, May 26, 5-8 pm. Click here to RSVP on Facebook. You can see more of Anderegg’s work on his form & concept artist page.

Artist Interview: Mark Newport

Mark Newport is based in Michigan, but he flew to Santa Fe for the opening of his form & concept solo exhibition, Mending. The show features torn muslin cloths that Newport patched back together using intricate embroidery techniques. The painstaking task was an opportunity to meditate on the vulnerabilities of the human body, and the miraculous process of scarring. In our previous interview, Mark discussed his inspiration for the Mending series. While he was visiting Santa Fe, we sat down for a second conversation about his career, the fiber art community, and how his bodies of work link together.

Could you tell us a little bit about your background in art-making?

I did my Bachelor of Fine Arts work at the Kansas City Art Institute, and took a few years off and then I went to the School of The Art Institute of Chicago for my graduate education. I graduated in 1991. Since then, I’ve lived in several different cities and made work in all of them. 

What are you up to now?

Currently I live and work in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan where I am the head of the Fiber Department and Artist in Residence at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, which is a graduate program for people studying in my department. I maintain my studio practice there. 

Mark Newport Fiber Art- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Mark Newport, Mend VII (detail), embroidery on muslin, 20″ x 15″

What do you mean by ‘Artist in Residence’?

The term Artist in Residence at Cranbrook is kind of equivalent to an assistant or associate professor at the university. It denotes that we’re teachers, but also that we’re mentors. So, Artists in Residence is meant to assert that I’m an artist, and I work there teaching. Cranbrook is kind of based on the old mentorship-guild way artists were trained in Europe in the pre-modern era.

What inspires you about the contemporary fiber art community right now?

I think what’s interesting about fiber right now is that it’s hard to identify what fiber is in some ways. If I take for example some of my students, there’s people doing video work that looks performative, there are people doing fashion work, there are people that are weaving and quilting. And, obviously, with the weaving and quilting you recognize that it’s coming from fiber and textiles. But, as has been the case for many years, there’s this sort of expanded idea of what that can be.  And it becomes much more about the concepts and the ideas. And of course technology plays into that. You could be weaving with a Jacquard loom that is basically running from a computer program. Or doing digital work in video or doing something that’s completely digital and doesn’t have a physical presence but it relates to either the manufacture of or the history of textiles and what that means in the world right now. 

Mark Newport Fiber Art- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Mark Newport, Mend VIII (detail), embroidery on muslin, 20″ x 15″

In your work, you tend to chew on the same question or themes for years. Could you talk about your different bodies of work?

This year when I had to start school and give a lecture about my work, I jokingly said that I’ve worked on the same ideas for 25 years. That’s true in the sense that I’m interested in gender and how that relates to how we as individuals get to operate in the world or understand the world. I’m also interested in how the body relates to those ideas. The body can project a certain kind of idea about, say, masculinity or femininity or the continuum in between those two poles. The body is also not just a symbol but a kind of tool for recording experience. Our sense of touch and the way our skin works… records information through scars or wrinkles as we age. With the superhero costumes, I was using the idea of the pumped-up body deflated through the knitting, and relating it to an idea of gender in the body. With the new work, it’s this idea of scars.

Does your fascination with the body translate into scientific studies of the body? Are you on WebMD looking up skin conditions?

The fascination with the body means that I look at old anatomy texts. I love those old illustrations. I’ve done a lot of reading about how ideas of gender relate to how people depicted images of the body. At one point, scientists described the male and female genitals as the inverse of each other, even though they cut open bodies and saw that that was not the case at all. I love the idea that how we conceive of something isn’t always what we’re actually looking at, and how there’s slippage and contradictions there. I don’t go to WebMD, but I look at all sorts of videos about how surgeries happen and stuff like that, just to see what it is and figure out how things could be more informed in the work. 

Mark Newport Fiber Art- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Mark Newport, Mend IX (detail), embroidery on muslin, 20″ x 15″

How do some of your more grotesque interests translate into this really subtle, gorgeous, detailed work?

The work’s not grotesque but the inspiration is, and I think that’s largely because I like to work with metaphor in this body of work. I like the idea that the muslin I start with is like my skin, but different. It holds things, it wrinkles, it gets torn, it needs to be fixed just like my body. And so, I’m using the tools that I’m trained to use to make something, and I don’t necessarily want it to be grotesque. I kind of like the idea that the reference to the wound on the body gets made kind of seductive and beautiful. People have the opportunity to process that idea in a different way. 

Is there still a sense of wonder for you that wounds on the human body embroider themselves back together through scarring?

It’s absolutely fascinating. And to think about that in terms not so much of me, but my son who’s kind of accident prone, and watching that and how something heals. The body’s frustrating and amazing all at the same time. 

You’ve been meditating on your own body and aging lately. Does that relate to your current body of work?

I don’t think that it’s an accident that this body of work is happening now. And after the costumes, I think I’m sensitive to the fact that being in my 50s makes me more aware of healing and of tending or taking care of myself and trying to last a little bit longer. I’m wondering how much can you tend, or fix, or repair, and how much you just have to accept and deal with. And I don’t think I would’ve thought that when I was making the other work, just because of how old I am now. 

Mark Newport’s Mending is on view at form & concept through May 20, 2017. Click here to view the full exhibition on our website.

Mark Newport Fiber Art- Form and Concept- Santa Fe New Mexico
Mark Newport, From Within II (detail), embroidery on muslin, 33″ x 66″

Ask Judy Chicago.

Judy Chicago appeared at form & concept on February 10 for a presentation on her work by Chad Alligood, curator of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The event was sponsored by the Women’s International Study Center and their Fellowship Program, which brought Alligood to Santa Fe to work on an essay about Chicago’s life for a forthcoming monograph from the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

After Alligood’s engaging talk, Chicago ascended the stage for a Q&A session featuring written questions from the audience. Check out the Youtube playlist above to hear her answers to each question, and scroll down for her most quotable moments from the evening.

On responding to criticism.

I simply never have, I just kept working. I got interviewed with Eleanor Antin […] and she was telling this story about how when she got bad reviews she would write these long missives, or call up the critics and yell at him. It was usually a him. I was speechless. ‘Really? It never crossed my mind!’ I just kept working.

On art fairs.

John Baldessari said, ‘For an artist, going to art fairs is like watching your parents have sex.’ […] It sounds like a great quote, but then I was reading Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton, and every art fair she went to John Baldessari was there. So I guess he didn’t take his own advice, but I took it. I’ve only been to one or two art fairs, but we walked through Frieze that year, and I was just horrified by the work. I mean derivative, boring. It was a lot of young work. So I really changed my attitude. […] If I were young now, I think I would stay out of the market until I had found my own voice.

On changing her name to Judy Chicago.

My favorite was when somebody said I changed my name to Judy Chicago so my initials would be J.C. But my maiden name was Judy Cohen, so I don’t see quite how that worked.

On the next steps for the feminist movement.

Why shouldn’t little boys study women’s history the way girls have to study men’s history? Why do we have to have the ghetto classes? Similarly in museums, why can’t I see Alice Neel next to Lucien Freud. That institutional change hasn’t happened yet. […] We have to see, after having the thrill of being with all these like-minded people in public space, if young people now being the hard work of making change.

Thanks to the Women’s International Study Center for collaborating with us on this wonderful event! Click here to learn more about the presentation.