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.
In August, Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez convened beneath the Flying Blue Buffalo for a special lecture titled Entre Cíbolos Criados: Creativity, Consciousness and Community.
In his moving speech, Dr. Rael-Gálvez discusses the three concepts that have long defined his work and the history of Indigenous slavery.
His lecture is sampled below, and can be read in full at flyingbluebuffalo.com
It is a tremendous honor to be able to participate in this opening by the amazing artist, Armond Lara – whose memorial is… breath-taking, but it gives breath as well. This thoughtful remembering is a project — that through creativity raises consciousness — and in the end, is inspired by the promise of strengthening community.
Here in this sovereign landscape, Pueblo elders have said that, “wherever we go, we leave our breath behind us” — an invocation recognizing those who came before us and how their life force remains with us long after they have gone. In recognizing this life force, we not only illuminate all of the ancestors who lived in this place, but point especially to the life of those living now in the present, as well as to those generations that will follow, inheriting what we leave behind in the future.
In time, drawn to the subject of enslaved Indians as a young scholar, I would immerse myself as a historian in countless archives, reading between the lines of documents, tracing my finger across maps and looking closer at photographs, all complemented by my work as an anthropologist, engaged in many hundreds of conversations set with bread at kitchen tables, revealed upon a walk through alfalfa fields, and shared across miles by telephone and electronic correspondence.
Taking those experiences, connecting them and eventually centering them, the story grew like a forest, one that eventually became a manuscript defended by me to hold a doctoral credential. However, believing that scholarship is most valuable when grounded and applied in the world, I left academia, and yet through my role as a public historian and anthropologist, indeed, because of it, the story only deepened further, to this day.
So when I talk about consciousness now, I am not only referring to the work I have done as a scholar and public historian for over two decades, but a commitment to raising consciousness on the ground, locally, in the minds of people in our region and nation, particularly in the minds of those who have not yet recognized that this story, however painful, is also one of complex beauty. This is no easy task.
The eyes of all of the descendants of those indigenous ancestors continue to awaken the possibility of remembering with each new birth of a New Mexican. Telling this Story—in whatever form that telling comes— is about how individual and collective lives are remembered, how a community takes the memories, stories and traditions of what has been passed down from one generation to the next, and how it reimagines itself, now in the present and into the future. We are the herd of buffalo that rises.
Dr. Rael-Gálvez holds a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he completed an award-winning dissertation, “Identifying Captivity and Capturing Identity: Narratives of American Indian Slavery.” Formerly the State Historian of New Mexico, Executive Director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and Senior Vice President at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Dr. Rael-Gálvez currently is a writer and the founding principal of Creative Strategies 360°.
An expert panel, together with participating designers and the public, will examine the nature and extent of the current housing shortage, review innovative housing strategies that have been successful elsewhere, and identify opportunities for meaningful change with in our city’s physical and political landscape. The discussion will be moderated by Friends of Architecture Santa Fe, and audience participation is encouraged. Confirmed panelists include:
- Alexandra Ladd, Special Projects Manager for Housing and Community Development, City of Santa Fe
- Joseph Montoya, Executive Director of the Santa Fe County Housing Authority
- Jamie Blosser AIA, Architect and Executive Director of the Santa Fe Art Institute
- Kevin Kellogg, Chief Executive Officer of The Housing Trust
- Ed Archuleta, Executive Director of St. Elizabeth Shelters + Supportive Housing
- Alexander Dzurec AIA, Architect and Principal of Autotroph
- Mark Rea Baker, AIA, Architect and Principal of Baker Architecture + Design
- John Quale, Chair and Professor of Architecture and UNM School of Architecuture + Planning
The forum will serve as a kick-off for an open-format design charrette (also taking place at form & concept, on Saturday, November 3) where designers will respond with blue-sky design concepts for building sites, housing types, financial models, and/or policy solutions.
September 22 is World Rhino Day! Just in time for the holiday, Elana Schwartz has completed a fantastical rhino sculpture in bronze. We’re donating 10% of the proceeds from the artwork’s sale to the International Rhino Foundation. Help save the rhinos, and add this stunning artwork to your collection.
“The Earth is on the verge of a mass extinction event,” said Schwartz. “Today, plants and animals on earth’s surface are becoming extinct at a faster rate than ever before. The corruption of earth’s shared natural resources informs us that humanity is inseparable from the rest the natural world and leads us the confront and thus act on the untimely impermanence of all existence.”
At the start of the 20th century, 500,000 rhinos roamed the earth. Today, only 29,500 rhinos survive in the wild. Learn more about the rhino crisis and how you can help here.
Kelsey Simmen creates one-of-a-kind pieces and small production batches that reflect her love for color and design. She is inspired by unusual materials, science, patterns, and shapes. By experimenting with traditional and non-traditional media, Kelsey has found joy in creating pieces that are vibrant, thoughtful, and cheeky.
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.
New Mexico School for the Arts is in the midst of renovating and repurposing their new Railyard location, and they’re wasting no time injecting fresh creative energy into the arts district. The arts high school presents a special performance series at form & concept, hosted by faculty members and showcasing outstanding student musicians, fiction writers and poets. Make sure to mark your calendar for NMSA performances on the first Thursday of each month.
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.”