New Mexico’s art city celebrates summer with fairs, gallery shows and museum exhibitions that link ancient roots to cutting-edge contemporary.
Santa Fe has long been a cultural mecca, luring art lovers and collectors from across the globe with more than 240 galleries, a dozen museums, and a host of art fairs vying for attention during the summer months. This summer, as the state of New Mexico celebrates its centennial year, the country’s oldest capital city offers an exhaustive, eye-popping array of artworks that reaffirms its status as the third-largest art market in the U.S. Known as The City Different and called the “dancing ground of the sun” by the Pueblo Indians who first inhabited the area centuries ago, Santa Fe boasts an artistic tradition as multifaceted as its Native American, Spanish and Anglo roots. And it remains a haven for artists, who, in the footsteps of Georgia O’Keeffe, John Sloan, Ansel Adams, Marsden Hartley and many others, continue to flock here, captivated by its natural beauty, turquoise skies and piercing high-desert light.
“Santa Fe is about real art, not hype,” says Ken Marvel, director of LewAllen Galleries, which specializes in both modern and contemporary art. “There is a spirit of integrity and lack of pretention that is refreshing to collectors. You can find everything here, from historic blue-chip to cutting edge contemporary art, in an enormous diversity of media, subject matter, styles and periods at the highest levels of quality.”
Despite the sagging economy, the Santa Fe art scene appears to be as vibrant as ever. One of the big-ticket art fairs this season is ART Santa Fe, organized by contemporary art dealer Charlotte Jackson, who also runs a gallery in the city’s Railyard District. Now in its 12th year, this intimate, boutique fair, taking place at the Santa Fe Convention Center from July 13-15 with a vernissage on July 12, will showcase international modern and contemporary art in a variety of media from more than 30 galleries from the U.S. and abroad. “This year, the fair is more international than ever,” Jackson says. “We have first-time galleries showing from Afghanistan, Bolivia, Argentina, Nepal and Japan. “There are so many heart-warming stories associated with some of these dealers and their artists, who are working against all odds to get here. This show truly bridges cultures unlike any of our others. The contemporary art market in Santa Fe has blossomed over the past eight years, with more galleries showing top-quality contemporary art, and the world has taken notice.”
Among the many highlights at Art Santa Fe are a tar-on-canvas image of an Afghan woman by Mohammad Zia Forogh, represented by Galleria Kabul, and a cactus sculpture made of recycled bottles by Egardo Rodriguez of Solange Guez + Arte Contemporaneo from Argentina. In the “How Things Are Made” demonstration section, three Korean female artists represented by Park Fine Art of Albuquerque and Seoul are returning to create artworks from paper that will be hand-made on site. The artists will be wearing hand-made paper dresses in the traditional Korean style. Art lovers will not want to miss the fair’s keynote address given by noted art critic and art historian Barbara Rose at the New Mexico History Museum on July 14.
ART Santa Fe is being held on the same weekend as the Ninth Annual International Folk Art Market, the largest of its kind in the world, and buses will shuttle between the venues. This year, from July 13–15, under the tents on Museum Hill, offering stunning views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Market will host more than 150 master artists from over 50 countries who will sell artworks ranging from exquisite beadwork by the Saraguro women of southern Ecuador, Suzani embroideries from Uzbekistan, hand-woven Rwandan baskets, ceramics from France, and many other rarefied treasures. Many of the artists come from poor developing countries, and the Market (where Donna Karan and Martha Stewart have shopped) allows them the opportunity to gain income that dramatically improves their lives. Attendance and sales have been steadily increasing, with a record 20,000 plus visitors last year. Adding to the Market’s ongoing popularity are ethnic cuisine and live world music, along with a dazzling opening day procession of artists in traditional attire on July 12 at Railyard Park.
The Railyard District will be buzzing again when The Santa Fe Show, Objects of Art, now in its third year, opens at the El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe from August 11–13 and 17–19 with more than 60 dealers nationwide offering contemporary and historic artworks in a variety of media, including paintings, textiles, antiques, books, tribal art, jewelry, and other decorative arts from the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe. A centerpiece of the show is a first-time exhibition of up to 40 vintage shields from Africa, Indonesia, New Guinea, and the rest of island Melanesia from the collection of longtime Santa Fe tribal art dealer Taylor A. Dale. Made of wood, woven basketry and animal hide, the shields are unique works of art decorated with abstract, geometric patterns and carved and painted curvilinear and figurative motifs. Other highlights include an oil-on-canvas portrait from the mid-1920s of a Russian singer by the noted Russian painter Nicolai Fechin (1882–1955), one of the best known of the early Taos-colony artists, which is being offered by Robert L. Parsons Fine Art of Taos, and a 16th-century Spanish canon from Calabaza gallery of Glorieta, N.M., that was unearthed during the building of the Panama Canal.
The Santa Fe Show coincides with the longtime Antique Ethnographic Art Show and Antique Indian Art Show, organized by Whitehawk Antique Shows, which will take place at the Santa Fe Convention Center from August 10–11 and August 13–14, respectively, with gala previews on August 9 and 12. At the Ethnographic Show, up to 100 dealers will present a broad selection of African, Oceanic, Pre-Columbian, Asian and Spanish Colonial pottery, baskets, jewelry, textiles, furniture, paintings and more. The Antique Indian Art Show, the largest and longest running show of its kind, offers antique treasures ranging from Pueblo pottery and Northwest Coast masks to California baskets and Plains beadwork. New this year will be an appraisal clinic on August 13, where collectors can seek valuations for their tribal art from members of the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association.
Concurrent with these shows is the city’s famous Indian Market, held each year during the third weekend of August around the historic Plaza—the heart of the city since its founding by the Spanish in 1610 and the terminus of the legendary 19th-century trading route the Santa Fe Trail. The 91st installment of the Indian Market, the largest and most prestigious Native arts market in the world, will feature over 1,000 Native artists from the U.S. and Canada selling traditional and contemporary artworks, including paintings, sculpture, jewelry, pottery, textiles, couture, wood-carved kachina dolls, bead work, baskets and drums. Among the many artists of note are Orlando Dugi (Navajo) who designs elegant, hand-beaded silk and chiffon gowns and fashion accessories, and Mary Irene (Muscogee Creek), who is known for her bold, architectural silver jewelry designs. Authentic Native American jewelry, pottery and other artworks can also be found at the Pueblo villages just north of Santa Fe, where artisans sell from their homes and studios. The weeklong celebration of Native arts and culture prior to Indian Market includes film screenings by Native filmmakers at the New Mexico History Museum and a New Native Photography exhibition at the New Mexico Museum of Art.
The Plaza will also come alive during the last weekend of July, when about 350 Hispanic artists, mostly from New Mexico, launch Santa Fe’s 61st annual Traditional Spanish Market, showcasing hand-made, Spanish colonial-inspired artworks like retablos (paintings of saints on wood or board that derive from religious folk art), bultos (stylized wood-carved figures of saints), furniture, colcha embroidery, straw inlay and basketry. The culmination of a week-long celebration of Hispanic heritage, which also includes traditional food, dances, and folk, mariachi and Latin world music at the Plaza bandstand, Spanish Market offers “a sense of adventure steeped in culture and the opportunity to form personal connections with the artists,” says the Market’s director, Maggie Magalnick.
As if the art fairs and markets weren’t enough to keep one busy, Santa Fe’s galleries are rolling out their own enticing slate of summer exhibitions, along with the several dozen art openings and receptions that take place every Friday. Gerald Peters, one of the world’s leading dealers in 19th- and 20th-century American art with a sprawling gallery and sculpture garden on Paseo de Peralta, says galleries have had to work to keep up with the competition generated by art fairs, which are big crowd pleasers. “The art business is changing,” says Peters, who has stepped up his participation on the fair circuit. “There is more emphasis now on masterpieces that appeal to a small group of wealthy collectors, and there are more ways to reach them. There is also a growing demand for contemporary art.” Long known for his stellar inventory of classic Western art by Charles M. Russell, Frederic Remington and others; works by the American modernists and American and European Impressionists; and historic paintings from the Taos Society of Artists and the Santa Fe Art Colony, Peters is expanding his contemporary offerings to include more works by international artists. To that end, he opened a new gallery this year, G.P. Marfa, in Marfa, Tex., an off-the-beaten path art destination and home of the Donald Judd-inspired Chinati Foundation museum. And the Santa Fe Convention Center on November 17, Peters will be presenting the venerable Santa Fe Art Auction, devoted to 19th- and 20th-century Western and Southwestern art.
On nearby Canyon Road, one of the oldest and most concentrated art streets in the country with up to 100 galleries, Chiaroscuro Gallery specializes in contemporary abstract paintings, photography and works by Native American artists. As a follow-up to its successful Aboriginal art show two years ago, Chiaroscuro will present new works by contemporary Australian indigenous artists from July 13–September 8, in partnership with the Vivien Anderson Gallery in Melbourne. Narrative abstractions in bold colors, shapes and symbols executed in acrylics and earth pigments on canvas and bark by over a dozen Aboriginal artists—including Teresa Baker, Wipana and Beryl Jimmy and Jean-Baptiste Apuatimi—express a deep connection to the earth and Aboriginal culture. In addition, an exhibition of landscape-inspired abstract paintings by the noted Navajo artist Emmi Whitehorse will be on display from August 10–September 8.
Other not-to-be missed stops on Canyon Road include the veteran Morning Star Gallery, one of the nation’s premier galleries for Native American art, who will present “The Art of New Mexico” from August 11 through Labor Day, featuring antique and contemporary Pueblo pottery, Apache beadwork, Spanish colonial furniture and devotional art, and embossed tinwork boxes, mirrors and frames from the late 19th and early 20th-centuries. Standout items include a large red-ware storage jar by noted Santa Clara Pueblo potter Margaret Tafoya, circa 1936, and an important retablo of the Holy Trinity, circa 1830, by Rafael Aragon. The market for the best Native American art remains strong, according to Morning Star’s director Henry Monahan, having reached new heights last year, when a Oglala Sioux beaded and hide war shirt sold at Sotheby’s New York for a record $2.7 million. Through the month of August, Alexander Anthony’s Adobe Gallery will present paintings by Native American students who attended the Santa Fe Indian School in the 1930s and studied under artist Dorothy Dunn. Adobe also offers a broad selection of antique and contemporary Pueblo pottery, Hopi and Zuni kachina dolls, and Native American jewelry and basketry.
Highlighting the summer roster at Nedra Matteucci Galleries is an exhibition, from August 11-September 1, of traditional Southwest landscape paintings, along with European, Canadian and Mexican scenes, by husband-and-wife team John and Terri Kelly Moyers. The Santa Fe couple is known for their masterful renderings of the American West.
Also worth a visit is the new Red Dot Gallery, run by students in the gallery management program at Santa Fe Community College. Housed at the former location of the Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, who moved to the Railyard District and is leasing the space to the students, Red Dot shows extraordinary student work that is selling, according to Sandy Zane. Take a break from gallery hopping at the Teahouse across the street, a popular restaurant serving more than 150 teas, or try bohemian El Farol, a Spanish tapas bar with colorful murals from the 1950s by Santa Fe artist Alfred Morang. Nearby Geronimo, which serves award-winning, global-French-Asian cuisine in an elegant setting, is a favorite with art-world insiders.
For some of the best contemporary art anywhere, head down to the Historic Railyard District, a thriving, 50-acre industrial area along the old train tracks adjacent to Guadalupe Street, where a number of cutting-edge galleries and shops occupy renovated warehouses in a kind of smaller, frontier version of New York’s Chelsea gallery scene. “It’s survival of the fittest now for galleries,” says Sandy Zane of Zane Bennett Contemporary Art. “Business is still good, but we’ve had to be more pro-active. For example, we’re doing more sales on the Internet, and shipping more artworks abroad. We’re also very active in the community.”
Zane Bennett’s 10,000 square foot space offers a dramatic backdrop for a broad range of contemporary paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photography and video by an impressive roster of emerging and established local, regional and international artists, including blue-chip names like Georg Baselitz, Helen Frankenthaler, Richard Diebenkorn and Judy Chicago. The gallery’s not-to-be missed shows this summer include a two-part survey of contemporary Latin American art, from July 27–August 24 and August 31–September 21, featuring sculpture and digital prints by artists from, among other countries, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Cuba, where Zane recently travelled to meet with artists and collectors. From June 29–August 10, “Staying Ahead of the Beast” will present abstract illusionist paintings, sculptures and archival boxes by the noted Santa Fe-based artist James Havard, who draws inspiration from Native American, tribal and outsider art.
Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, specializing in contemporary American and European art with an emphasis on modernism as well as monochrome, concrete and color field painting, will be hosting a group show, from July 5–22, of shaped monochromes in primary colors by artists Ron Davis, Tony De Lapp, William Metcalf and others in honor of art critic Barbara Rose, the keynote speaker for ART Santa Fe, who was a pioneering theorist in the field. “Case Study,” an exhibition of new geometric abstractions by Charles Arnoldi inspired by California case-study architecture, will occupy Jackson’s elegant space from July 27–August 27. Arnoldi was known earlier in his career for his chainsaw-gouged paintings and stick constructions.
LewAllen Galleries, one of the city’s oldest and largest galleries for contemporary and modern art, will be offering a host of exhibitions throughout the summer at both its Railyard and Plaza (Palace Avenue) locations. At LewAllen at the Santa Fe Railyard, Philadelphia-based artist Diane Burko’s epic landscapes of Iceland and the eastern U.S. will be on display through July 15, while ultra-Realist, painterly landscapes by Woody Gwyn will follow from July 20–August 26. Sharing the spotlight at Lew Allen Downtown Santa Fe are exhibitions of arresting nature-study close-ups by John Fincher (August 13–September 2) and abstract, gestural landscapes of the Southwest and East Coast by Forest Moses (June 29–July 29). Gwyn, Fincher and Moses, all based in Santa Fe, are recognized as accomplished senior painters in the landscape tradition. Lew Allen also operates a satellite gallery at the luxurious Encantado Auberge Resort (soon to become a Four Seasons property) in Tesuque, just north of Santa Fe, which exhibits works from its extensive inventory.
Tai Gallery will present “Legacy of Inspiration: Shono Shounsai and His Students” (July 6-21), featuring bamboo basketry and sculpture by the mid-20th-century master who raised bamboo into a modern art form, as well as by students such as Tanabe Kochikusai, Abe Motoshi and Yamaguuchi Ryuun, who have become accomplished bamboo artists themselves. From August 21–September 15, Tai Gallery will be showing Japanese landscape-inspired photographs by Yoshihiko Ueda, one of Japan’s top photographers.
Also of note, through July 8, is Currents 2012: The Santa Fe International New Media Festival, presenting the latest developments in new media art—including video and sound installation, animation, multimedia performance and computer/software modulated sculpture—by over 70 artists from the U.S. and abroad. The third edition of an annual citywide festival, “Currents” will take place at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, the Center for Contemporary Arts, Zane Bennett Contemporary Art and the Institute of American Indian Arts, among other venues. Railyard trailblazer SITE Santa Fe, a cutting-edge contemporary art space noted for its ambitious biennial exhibitions, is partnering this year with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) to present “More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness,” an exhibition running from July 8–January 6 in Santa Fe that will feature 60 works in a variety of media investigating the unstable relationship between fact and fiction in the 21st century. Vik Muniz, Eve Sussman, Pierre Huyghe, Ai Weiwei and Joel Lederer are among the more than 25 established and emerging international artists represented. Curated by the MIA’s Elizabeth Armstrong, the exhibition will open in Minneapolis on March 3. SITE will not be mounting a biennial this year, as it reformulates its approach to this exhibition.
Must-see galleries located around the historic Plaza include The Owings Gallery, which will be exhibiting, during the month of August, American modernist works by Stuart Davis, John Sloan, Georgia O’Keeffe and others, as well as early 20th-century paintings by Santa Fe and Taos artists such as Will Shuster, Willard Nash, E. Irving Couse, Victor Higgins and Ernest Blumenschein. From July 15 through the first week of August, the gallery will show paintings of southwestern subjects and landscapes by local artist Frank Croft. DavidRichard Contemporary, north of the Plaza, will have two shows up in July, through the 21st of the month. “On the Edge” presents the work of Doug Edge, paintings in cast plastic that are full of cultural and political satire. “Lily Fenichel: Current Work” is the artist’s first solo show with the gallery and features primarily abstract works made by pouring oil-based glazes onto a stretched polypropylene support. Patina Gallery, a leading venue for contemporary art jewelry and fine craft, will host a number of stunning summer shows. On display from July 13–August 5 will be art jewelry by Myung Urso, whose award-winning wearable sculptural collages draw upon the aesthetic traditions of her native South Korea. From August 3–26, two prominent European metalsmiths, Erich Zimmermann of Germany, who creates striking hand-forged, organic designs in gold and silver, and Claude Chavent of France, noted for his mixed metal, trompe l’oeil craftsmanship, will exhibit their contemporary studio jewelry. California designer Claire Kahn’s crochet beaded necklaces and bracelets incorporating precious gems will be at Patina from August 10-September 2.
Photograph collectors will appreciate the broad range of museum-quality historic and contemporary photographs at Andrew Smith Gallery, also near the Plaza, offering works by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Annie Leibovitz, Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston and many other well-known names. From May 25-July 30, “Saints and Sinners: Rituals of Penance and Redemption” will feature photographs by the award-winning New Mexico photographer Miguel Gandert, which continue his pictorial document of the sacred and secular rituals of mestizo people of the northern Rio Grande corridor.
For an unforgettable alternative to the buzzing Santa Fe art scene, take a 20-minute drive south of town to Stardreaming, a 22-acre desert site comprising 13 temple labyrinths made of 353 tons of stone. This sacred temple complex was created over the past 11 years by self-taught, visionary artist James Jereb, who also has a studio here. Each temple is oriented to specific stellar, lunar or solar alignments according to the lore of Hermetic geometry, alchemy and magic. Also on display and for sale are Jereb’s dazzling paintings on canvas and limited edition, giclee prints depicting archangels; gods and masters from the world’s wisdom traditions; and indigenous and alchemical subjects, among his many other metaphysical interests. Visits are by appointment only.
Santa Fe’s museums are also heating up the summer with a number of excellent exhibitions. Through May 5, 2103, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is presenting “Georgia O’Keeffe and the Faraway: Nature and Image,” the first exhibition to explore how O’Keeffe’s personal experiences with the Southwestern landscape informed her paintings. Featuring drawings and paintings inspired by the desert surrounding her Ghost Ranch house and by the camping and rafting trips she made, the exhibition includes a recently made photographic panorama of the Black Place—one of O’Keeffe’s favorite sites in Navajo country, about 150 miles west of her Ghost Ranch house, where she and her friend Maria Chabot camped in 1944. The panorama is part of the exhibition’s reconstruction of this site, which includes the tent the two women pitched, along with their lanterns, camping gear and cooking equipment. Also on display are a number of photographs by Chabot and others who accompanied O’Keeffe on her desert outings.
Also at the O’Keeffe Museum through May 5, 2013, is “Annie Liebovitz: Pilgrimage,” a touring exhibition of about 70 photographs by Liebovitz, known for her staged portraits for magazines like Vanity Fair, which encompass landscapes, interiors and commonplace objects that evoke the past. A number of the photos were taken during her pilgrimages to the homes of iconic figures such as O’Keeffe, Elvis Presley and Emily Dickinson, as well as places like Niagara Falls, Walden Pond and Yosemite Valley. Highlighting the exhibition are Liebovitz’s photos of O’Keeffe’s home and studio at Abiquiu, N.M., and of the sites she painted, including the Black Place.
Other noteworthy museum exhibitions include “It’s About Time: 14,000 Years of Art in New Mexico” at the New Mexico Museum of Art through January 2014. Opening to coincide with this year’s centennial celebration of New Mexico’s statehood, the exhibition showcases a wide range of works—from prehistoric artifacts, Pueblo pottery and Spanish colonial devotional art to representational and modernist abstract paintings, Native American art, photography and contemporary conceptual art—tracing the evolution of art in the American Southwest from the earliest Clovis culture to the present. Among the well-known artists represented in the exhibition are E. Irving Couse, Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Agnes Martin and Bruce Nauman.
At the Museum of International Folk Art, “The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps,” which runs from July 8–October 7, presents artworks made by Japanese Americans who were imprisoned in U.S internment camps during World War II. After Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941, all ethnic Japanese living on the West Coast were ordered to move to the camps, including one in Santa Fe, for the duration of the war. The tools, teapots, games, furniture, toys, musical instruments and other objects on display are reminders of how art making became essential for creature comforts and emotional survival during this tragic period. Gaman is a Japanese word that means to bear the seemingly unbearable with dignity and patience.
“There has been more interest in folk art in general,” says Marsha Bol, the museum’s director. “People are traveling more widely now and are more interested in the traditions of other cultures, and folk art is accessible and personal. I have seen the Santa Fe art scene grow considerably over the past 30 years. The city got off to a good start in the early 20th century, when artists moved here and anthropologists worked to preserve its history. Now, it has become internationally known for its world-class museums and galleries, musical events and other cultural offerings. People enjoy visiting and living here because of the high quality of life. And Santa Fe continues to attract artists and collectors. I can’t think of a better place to be.”
This article originally appeared in the Summer issue of Art & Antiques Magazine as “The Spirit of Santa Fe.”
By Dana Micucci