A few works stand out at the new exhibition at the Santa Fe Community Gallery. Pollination: Encaustic Works From New Mexico showcases the work of 23 artists who work in encaustic and the work is a mix of styles from traditional encaustic painting to encaustic printmaking and wax sculptures. Within this exhibition there are some exceptional pieces.
A large wall piece with back lighting commands a good section of one of the outer walls as you first enter the gallery. Disappear by Paula Roland is an encaustic monotype measuring about eight feet by six feet with three layers of waxed monotypes. Eight fluorescent bulbs installed behind the work add another layer – this one of light - that peeks through the swiss cheese-like openings in the various layers. Roland is one of the more well known encaustic artists who has participated in the Santa Fe Monothon which began in 1987.
A small piece that was tucked inside an alcove deserves a closer look. first sign by Helen Cozza is an abstract work that references architectural elements through dimensional printmaking. The work consists of lithographic prints and air-dried polymer clay that are juxtaposed to provide a look at the constructed environment. The several layers of print, clay, and board create a bas relief format. Although, small in size compared to some of the works it definitely commands the wall space it occupies.
Two other works are of note including A Lingering Whisper by Stephanie Lerma and Intersection by Susan Zimmerman. Lerma’s work challenges the viewer with her composition of wax-covered petals made from handmade paper that provide the allusion of swirling movement originating from the center. The colors of red and pink petals make a connection to flowers and pollination. Zimmerman’s beautifully crafted encaustic layered painting with subtle neutral colors and simple line drawings that have been etched into the wax speaks of calm and serenity.
The opening was held on Friday evening, June 25 with over 100 people in attendance. According to Rod Lambert, the Gallery Director, there are usually over 300 people at the openings but the quick thunderstorm that blanketed Santa Fe that evening kept some people away. Those brave souls who ventured out appeared to be staunch supporters of this gallery and of the local artists. The gallery represents only New Mexico artists and is a great space for the community. The space has plenty of natural light from a wall of windows at the entrance to the gallery.
This exhibition was publicized in a few of Santa Fe’s newspapers as an exhibit about the environmental impact on bee populations but the connection to bees stops at the title. The only connection the works in this exhibition have with bees is that they are made with pigmented beeswax. It’s a shame the publications didn’t address the wide range of encaustic works in the show. This exhibition includes significant work that explores the ways encaustic is used today and has been used historically.
I have to hand it to the gallery director for jurying and hanging this exciting exhibition. Each artist received ample space and it was well worth the trip from Albuquerque.
For those of you who may not be aware of this exhibition or the space I encourage you to take a look at it. The show runs through August 20 so you have time to stop by and see the show. The Santa Fe Community Gallery is located at 201 West Marcy in Santa Fe. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm.