Artist Interview: Debra Baxter | Tooth & Nail

Santa Fe sculptor Debra Baxter presents a new series of sculptural artworks in her solo exhibition, Tooth & Nail. The show opened on April 27, 2018. Baxter will appear at an artist talk on Saturday, May 19, 2-3 pm, and a closing reception on Saturday, June 15, 5-7 pm. On a studio visit this winter, she talked about her work as a sculptor and jeweler, her influences, and the new body of work. 

You moved to Santa Fe from Seattle almost three years ago. How has your practice changed since you got here?

I feel really happy here, and solid. That solidity and happiness and the sunshine all make a massive difference in my joy. I feel like there might be more levity and light in me that might come out in the work.

Debra Baxter Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Debra Baxter, Face Down About to Get Up and Fight, cast glass, citrine 4.5 x 5 x 3 in.

That makes sense. It seems like part of your practice is about bringing your emotional world into the third dimension.

A good example of that is this idea of attachment. My husband is a woodworker. In order to make the things connect correctly, they have to both be flat. There’s a level of detail that’s insane that he’s really good at and  can advise me about.

In an emotional sense, I feel like I’m looking for a secure attachment and I almost get too attached to people and things. The thing about attachment is that you try to control it. That’s when it gets dangerous, when you’re trying to control someone else or the relationship. I made a sculpture once that was called It’ll Stop Screaming if You Let Go of It. 

Sculpting seems like a good way to work through those feelings. You’re constantly picking up new materials and swapping and combining and dropping them. 

Yeah, I’m always trying to figure out new, different materials. I’m trying to manipulate them, to figure out the edges of what I can control and what I can’t. It’s about realizing that sometimes you can only control so much, and after that you have to let it be what it is.

My art would get very stagnant if I stopped playing around and pushing. The thing about play that’s important is that failure is fine. It’s the risk-taking that’s important. This thing can fail and it could be a nightmare—maybe I wasted time and money—but who cares? Sometimes the failure is like, “Oh, now it looks better because I dropped it.”

Debra Baxter Sculpture- Crystal Brass Knuckles- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Debra Baxter, Aqua Aura Knuckles, bronze, crystal quartz, 4 x 4.5 x 2 in.

Does your work as a jeweler help you take bigger risks as a sculptor?

The processes definitely influence each other. I use sculpture processes on my jewelry—like using an angle grinder to grind things, which no one in their right mind would do. On the flip side, If I took some of my sculptural stuff to a jewelry caster, they would probably say, “That’s way too big! That’s not going to happen!” The possibilities open up a lot more, the more processes you learn.

The reason I got interested in jewelry, as much as I wanted to make jewelry, had to do with the fact that certain objects are more powerful on the body. Your body brings a certain power to it. With the crystal brass knuckles series, it’s so much more powerful on the hand.

In addition to jewelry and adornment, you’ve recently taken a big interest in drapery.

I’m really interested in the history of drapery in art. It’s such a weird ancient practice, to draw drapery. Sculptors have been carving drapery out of stone forever. It made me wonder how else I could translate fiber into other materials, like the bronze throwing stars that are cast from lace. 

Debra Baxter Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Debra Baxter, Lace Throwing Star, bronze, 5 x 5 in.

How does all of this play into your solo exhibition, Tooth & Nail

I’m doing a lot of inversion in the show. It’s about the relationship and the tension between two objects. Sometimes they’re almost touching, but not. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about how can art be transformational. That’s a hard thing to control. Maybe my art can give other people power to make their art. I love that idea, that your power is giving other people power. Again, it’s about letting go.

Debra Baxter Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Debra Baxter, Together, cast glass, fluorite, 4.5 x 7 x 2 in.

Click here to browse all of the artwork in Tooth & Nail. 

 

Julie Slattery | Strangers Collective | Mirror Box


Sculptor Julie Slattery shapes talismanic objects—such as the enormous bird skulls that appear in our Mirror Box exhibition—that become emotional reliquaries for specific events in her life.

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 opened at form & concept on Friday, February 23 and runs through April 14, 2018. Click the links below to learn about the Mirror Box event series.

Learn more about the exhibition.
RSVP for Closing Reception & Performance.

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 10, 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.