Armond Lara hosts a closing reception for his Flying Blue Buffalo installation on Saturday, November 17 from 5 to 7 pm. The Santa Fe artist collaborated with form & concept on this monumental art installation that tells the centuries-long story of enslaved Native American children. Inspired by his own family history, Lara dreamed up the winged buffalo as a new symbol of Native survival and resilience.
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.”
Virginia artist Jaydan Moore is known for his sculptures made from found, silver-plated tableware. After six years of manipulating these lost heirlooms to reflect on memory and commemoration, he’s accumulated thousands of scrap metal fragments. In his solo exhibition Dust, Moore incorporates the shards into a new series of sculptures. Through these palimpsests and an array of intaglio prints, the artist explores the slow deterioration of memory. Dust opens on Friday, June 29 from 5 to 7 pm, with an artist talk on Saturday, June 30 from 2 to 3 pm.
Jaydan Moore comes from a long line of California tombstone carvers, which might explain his obsession with the concept of commemoration. “The trade goes back four generations,” says the Virginia artist. “I grew up watching people make accommodations for loved ones, and turn their history into an object.” About six years ago, Moore began collecting silver-plated tableware to use as a raw material for intricate sculptures.
By reshaping these culturally loaded objects, he turned them into vessels for his ideas about memory and material culture. In a new solo exhibition at form & concept, Moore manipulates scrap metal from previous artistic experiments to flip his conceptual universe on its head. “What are the stages of forgetting?” he asks. Dust opens on Friday, June 29 from 5 to 7 pm, with an artist talk on Saturday, June 30 from 2 to 3 pm.
Moore earned his BFA in jewelry and metal arts from California College of the Arts. In graduate school at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, he started sculpting tableware because the material seemed like a strong proxy for memory. “Metal feels tough, but it actually has so much malleability,” Moore says. “It’ll take on dings and scratches and patinas, holding ‘recollections’ of experiences it’s been through.”
He imagined that the heirlooms were still connected to the people who once owned them, and that he could preserve these delicate biographical threads through his sculptures. In a concurrent series of intaglio prints, he recorded the patterns and marks on the platters before chopping them up. “The works on paper were initially just to document what I had found, and those last traces of whoever owned it before me,” he says. “I thought of it as the shadow of somebody.”
Moore graduated with his MFA in 2012, and continued using the tableware as a sculptural medium. Six years on, Moore is an adjunct faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University. His thoughts about how metal holds meaning have shifted considerably. “For so long, when I was making stuff I always thought there was this living memory in things, that I could feel the person before,” he says.
Lately he’s taken an interest in the way personal significance fades when an object changes hands. Moore realized that the clues he’d been following in the tableware said more about him than their previous owners. He developed an interest in the fragments of metal that were left behind in his studio. “I do so much conglomeration and cutting, so tons of material ends up in the scrap pile,” says Moore. “The earlier series was about the memory that endures, so maybe these scraps could speak to that slow deletion.”
Dust features sculptures made from the glittering shards that landed on Moore’s cutting room floor. In his past work, the artist has taken pains to leave the flawed surfaces of the tableware relatively untouched. “In this series, I’m letting my own personal narrative of how I connect with the material be much more a part of what the viewer sees, or how I talk about it,” Moore says. “My fingerprints are now becoming patina marks on all of this.”
The exhibition also includes a new series of intaglio prints that show intricate tableware patterns fading away. Despite his recent meditations on memory’s decay, Moore can’t fully shake his earlier idea of objects as reliquaries of experience. “The child from the tombstone family believes that there is still this memory in there,” Moore says. “We wouldn’t still be talking about how much objects have a hold on us unless there was something deeply invested in it.”
Debra Baxter has exhibited her sculptures and jewelry at form & concept since the gallery’s founding in May 2016. She helped lay the foundations of the gallery’s mission: to challenge preconceived notions about art, craft and design and blur their borders. “Debra is a master of what I call ‘material inversion,’” says Frank Rose, Gallery Director at form & concept. “She might pair soft materials with hard ones, or take it one step further and make a dense medium look like it’s light and flowing. She creates invigorating visual and tactile experiences, but there’s also a boundary-shattering conceptual element to the work.”
Baxter will conduct an artist talk on Saturday, May 19 from 2 to 3 pm. Tooth & Nail opens on Friday, April 27 from 5 to 7 pm, and runs through June 16, 2018.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Click here to browse all of the artwork in Tooth & Nail.
“This thing could fail, and it could be a nightmare,” says Debra Baxter. “But who cares?” The Santa Fe sculptor makes artworks that combine divergent materials—metal, glass and stone, for example—so there’s always a risk that they’ll split apart during the creative process. Informed by her passion for armor and weaponry, Baxter charges ahead fearlessly to create elegant and sometimes dangerous objects. Her new solo exhibition at form & concept, Tooth & Nail, includes flowing bronze breastplates that hold glittering minerals, and metal throwing stars that are cast from lace. There’s also a wicked bronze-and-quartz sculpture from her Smithsonian-collected brass knuckles series. “I’ll often emerge from these crazy material experiments bruised—but I’m never broken,” says Baxter.
Baxter’s solo exhibition Tooth & Nail opens on Friday, April 27 from 5 to 7 pm, and runs through June 16, 2018. Baxter will conduct an artist talk on Saturday, May 19 from 2 to 3 pm.
“This thing could fail, and it could be a nightmare,” says Debra Baxter. “But who cares?” The Santa Fe sculptor makes artworks that combine divergent materials—metal, glass and stone, for example—so there’s always a risk that they’ll split apart during the creative process. Informed by her passion for armor and weaponry, the artist charges ahead fearlessly to create elegant and sometimes dangerous objects.
Baxter’s new solo exhibition, Tooth & Nail, includes flowing bronze breastplates that hold glittering minerals, and metal throwing stars that are cast from lace. There’s also a wicked bronze-and-quartz sculpture from her Smithsonian-collected brass knuckles series. “I’ll often emerge from these crazy material experiments bruised—but I’m never broken,” says Baxter. Tooth & Nail opens on Friday, April 27 from 5 to 7 pm, and runs through June 16, 2018. Baxter conducts an artist talk on Saturday, May 19 from 2 to 3 pm, and hosts a closing reception on Friday, June 15 from 5 to 7 pm.
Baxter has exhibited her sculptures and jewelry at form & concept since the gallery’s founding in May 2016. She helped lay the foundations of the gallery’s mission: to challenge preconceived notions about art, craft and design and blur their borders. “Debra is a master of what I call ‘material inversion,’” says Frank Rose, Gallery Director at form & concept. “She might pair soft materials with hard ones, or take it one step further and make a dense medium look like it’s light and flowing. She creates invigorating visual and tactile experiences, but there’s also a boundary-shattering conceptual element to the work.”
The artist moved from Seattle to Santa Fe in August 2015, a radical leap away from the city where she established her career. Originally from Nebraska, she earned her MFA at Bard College and moved to Washington State in the late 1990’s. Baxter drew inspiration from Seattle’s legendary punk rock scene to create a series of wearable sculptures. Her crystal brass knuckles, made from gemstones and bronze, caught the eye of a curator at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery. One of the artworks landed in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian in 2016. Baxter’s passion for bodily adornment also lead her to create a long-running jewelry collection called DB/CB, consisting of bronze pendants that cradle gems and minerals.
“The reason I got interested in jewelry had to do with the way that certain objects are more powerful on the body,” says Baxter. “Your body brings a certain energy to the object.” Not all of the works in Tooth & Nail reference personal ornamentation, but every piece carries a certain talismanic force. “Art can be transformational. It’s a hard thing to control, but no matter what medium I’m working with, I want to give people that experience,” Baxter says. Her process always begins with freewheeling experimentation.
The artist frequently picks up materials she’s never used before, searching for novel ways to engage the histories of sculpture, jewelry, weaponry or drapery. For Tooth & Nail, the events of the #MeToo movement have fed into her continued interest in the strength, vulnerability and the raw power of the female voice. The courage of these women has activated work with a blend of toughness and vulnerability. “These contrasting materials carry a similar spirit,” she explains. “My sculptures sometimes look delicate, but when they’re finished, they are structurally resilient.”
Tooth & Nail features artworks made from glass, bronze, minerals, wood, bone and alabaster—often in surprising combinations. “It usually starts with a seemingly impossible question: ‘I have this piece of lace, how do I make it metal?’” Baxter says. “Then it’s about play. My art would get very stagnant if I stopped playing around and pushing. It’s the risk-taking that’s important.” It’s inevitable that some of her experiments will collapse, but sometimes she finds unexpected success while wrestling with entropy. “Sometimes the failure is like, ‘Oh, now it looks better because I dropped it,’” Baxter says.\
For Matthew Szösz, setting up just one glass art experiment is an involved process. The preparation takes half a workday in some cases, and up to four weeks in others. It all leads to that pivotal moment, when the sculpture either takes its final shape or shatters into a million pieces. The Seattle-based artist has repeated this process countless times—with about 75% of his work instantly collapsing into rubble.
This spirit of fearless experimentation is reflected in his dazzlingly innovative, award-winning oeuvre. Szösz debuts new works from two of his ongoing series, Inflatables and Ropework, in his solo exhibition Minimal Tension. The show opens at form & concept on Friday, April 27 from 5 to 7 pm, with an artist talk on Saturday, April 28 from 2 to 3 pm. It runs through May 19, 2018.
“I am something of an outsider in my practice—lacking traditional training in glass, and autodidactic in my use of the material,” says Szösz. After studying furniture design for his undergraduate degree, he entered the glass world as a studio assistant. “I was a mold maker and a hardware person and a tool maker, and I just kept getting traded from one glass artist to another,” he says. By the time he entered the graduate program at the Rhode Island School of Design in his early 30’s, he was more than prepared to break every rule he’d learned in glass studios. In pursuit of unique and dramatic sculptural forms, Szösz began dreaming up experiments that would push the material to its limits.
“I had a professor who said, ‘no surprise for the artist, no surprise for the audience,’” Szösz says. “That surprise, where it’s as much a product of the material and circumstance that you set up as well as your own vision, is the thing that’s exciting for me.” He calls some of his experiments “material/process investigations” and others “bad ideas.” Either way, the key is to set up novel conditions in the studio, shifting heat, humidity and other variables to see how the glass responds. It’s a winding process—part scientific, part artistic—that has yielded significant treasures, such as Szösz’s Inflatables series.
Szösz builds the Inflatables using flat sheets of window glass, linking them together with tubes that channel air. He slips sheets of ceramic between the panes to keep the glass from fusing in certain places. The final step is to heat the piece to a molten state and blast air through the tubes, with the hope that it will inflate like a balloon but not burst. When he succeeds, Szösz emerges with a glass pod that resembles an enormous, clear chrysalis—or perhaps a lava monster’s pool toy. “There’s a certain amount of suspense and surprise,” Szösz explains. “When it actually does work, you get the idea that you’re working as a team with the material, kind of a partnership rather than just imposing your idea on something else.”
The artist developed his Ropework series over the course of seven years. The project started as an attempt to capture the twisted, bulging lines of Japanese temple ropes called Shimenawa using glass fiber. “The exploration moved from the creation of glass fiber pulling machines to a re-purposing of industrial fibers, to studies of British Empire-era ropemaking and sailor knot tying culture to create the geometric forms currently produced as part of the series,” says Szösz.
Considering the breadth of his creative inquiries, it’s no surprise that Szösz has a full array of art world honors under his belt. He was an Emerging Artist-in-Residence at Pilchuck Glass School in 2007, and a Wheaton Fellow in 2008. In 2009 he was an artist-in-residence at Nagoya Institute for the Arts and taught a workshop at Toyama Glass Institute. Szösz won the 2009 Jutta Cuny-Franz Memorial Award, becoming the second American ever to do so. In 2011 he was a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant Winner, and a year later he was selected by the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery as one of the top young craft artists in America for their exhibition 40 under 40.
“We’re particularly excited for Matthew’s artist talk on April 28, when we’ll show some videos of his process,” says form & concept Gallery Director Frank Rose. “Whether you’re a glass nerd or totally removed from that universe, you will marvel at how he brings these sculptures to life.”
“Everybody that lives in New Mexico goes to Arizona every once in awhile,” says Wesley Anderegg. “That’s the only reason Arizona exists, is to drive through to go to California.” It’s a particularly sacrilegious statement for a born-and-raised Arizonan, but Anderegg hasn’t lived there for decades. He’s also never directly revisited his wild childhood through his figurative ceramics—until now. “As you get older, you kind of get reminiscing,” says the California-based artist. “It’s like, oh man, I’m on the downslope these days. Time to look back.”
In a new series of diminutive ceramic tiles, Anderegg flattens his tragicomic sculptural figures with a playful nod to Pop Art paintings and comic book panels. The painted compositions evoke Anderegg’s experience growing up in the sun-drenched and lawless Sonoran Desert. Wesley Anderegg: ARIZONA debuts at form & concept on Friday, March 30 from 5 to 7 pm. Anderegg recognizes the humor of mounting a show called ARIZONA one state to the east, but it’s a simple matter of personal preference. “I thought about actually having it in Arizona, but I like you guys better,” he says with a grin.
Wesley Anderegg: ARIZONA debuts at form & concept on Friday, March 30 from 5 to 7 pm, with an artist talk on Saturday, March 31 from 2 to 3 pm. The show runs through May 19, 2018.