By: John Dorfman
Santa Fe is the second-largest art market in the United States, and yet coastal collectors often act as though it existed only in the summer, when Indian Market, Spanish Market, Art Santa Fe and the Opera are on. But Santa Fe doesn’t disappear when outsiders turn their backs—far from it. And during the “low season,” there is much to entice the art enthusiast.
Plenty of galleries keep warm in winter with continuing shows of favorite artists. This month LewAllen Galleries will be showing the work of Jimi Gleason, who creates abstract paintings by dragging multiple coats of iridescent acrylic paints across his canvases, which change color depending on the ambient light. “What I find especially intriguing about Jimi’s work is that it always results in a dramatic balancing act between the ethereal and concrete,” says director Robert Gardner. LewAllen recently had a nearly sold-out exhibition of contemporary New Mexico landscape artist Forrest Moses at its Railyard location, evidence, says Gardner, that “accomplished works by established painters continue to receive great market interest.” In addition to the Railyard district and the gallery in the center of Santa Fe, LewAllen has an outpost in the hills outside the city at Encantado, an Auberge resort and spa that was awarded AAA’s highest rating, the Five Diamond, in late 2009.
Blue Rain Galleries, known for their stable of innovative Native American and other contemporary artists, will be exhibiting work by Erin Currier, Rik Allen and Jim Vogel. Currier works with materials reclaimed from trash; Allen creates glass and steel sculptural works inspired by 1950s sci-fi rockets; and Vogel observes the New Mexican scene in paintings inspired by the American Scene style of Thomas Hart Benton. “These three are up-and-coming talents that are solid,” says gallery owner Leroy Garcia. “They’ve been at their career 15 to 20 years but are just taking off in terms of sales.” As for Santa Fe in February, Garcia says, “It’s just as hot now as it would be in July or August.”
Linda Durham Contemporary Art presents Painted Physics, a one-man show devoted to the work of Orlando Leibovitz. The Santa Fe-based artist explores the connections between art and science with a series of 10 acrylic-on-jute paintings portraying great physicists in somewhat fanciful settings—Erwin Schrödinger juggling cats, Murray Gell-Mann riding a jaguar, Archimedes in a bathtub as a baby. Through Feb. 13 James Kelly Gallery will have a photography exhibition, Sharon Core: Early American. Core’s richly colorful pictures are based on still lifes that Raphaelle Peale painted between 1812 and 1824. According to James Jernigan at the gallery, Core went so far as to “source period crockery and grow her own vegetables.”
In addition to the artistic incentives, Santa Fe has other charms in February. “It’s a bit like going to Paris in the winter,” says Rob Coffland, co-owner of TAI Gallery. “The people are nicer and the museums are less full. In a way, you can say the same thing about Santa Fe. In February or March you can get into any restaurant and get a great table.”
Summer has a different, more intense vibe. This July Art Santa Fe, the city’s major contemporary fair, will be celebrating its 10th year by moving from the Railyard to the new “green” Santa Fe Convention Center in the heart of historic downtown.