|516 Arts returns to its roots with new exhibit featuring wide array of artists from all corners of New Mexico
By Chloë Winegar-Garrett
New Mexico is a land rich with traditional and contemporary art, ancient methods and experimental creative procedures, urban and rural living, all without one single definition of how all of this ties together. It is this melting pot of aesthetics and ideas that has distinquished New Mexico within the art world for centuries, spanning across many diverse cultures and time periods. Artists living here have a chance to breathe pure air, be entranced by natural landscapes and escape large, crowded cities.
When 516 Arts opened five years ago, its first exhibit featured New Mexican artists. It is only appropriate that Executive Director Suzanne Sbarge chose to celebrate this anniversary with an 80-person New Mexico Showcase, juried by art critic Peter Frank of Los Angeles.
The whole process has been incredibly condensed: Calls for submissions were sent out last August, the deadline for artists was December, and this showcase will be put together within a shocking two weeks. However, the gallery has many devoted employees and volunteers who will guarantee a successful installation.
This will be the highest number of pieces ever shown at 516 Arts. Works in the show include everything from a skeleton-boot sculpture entitled Love and Death in the Desert
by Alison Green
to a depressing photograph of a child stranded in a retail parking lot named In Waiting
by Antonio Ramon
. A thought-provoking video byBrian Konefsky
entitled Does Anyone Ever Really Quit?
will show, andHarriet Yale Russell
from Cuba will present her mysterious drawing Night Comes to the Garden #2
. Many more artists will bring their diverse styles and topics, and every art material will hold a place in this exposition.
In an interview with Local iQ, Sbarge said she believes that the space will successfully fall into place even with the amount of works that will be shown. “There is such a lively and diverse scene in this state. It’s mind-boggling how many strong artists are living and working here in New Mexico.”
The emerging and established artists’ work was chosen by Frank, who has a high interest in American art, specifically within New Mexico. He describes his position as show jurist to Local iQthis way: “Judging artworks is not a casting call, but the process of winnowing down a particular assembly of objects down to a smaller assembly … it is not simply a like-it-don’t-like-it exercise in self-indulgence.” He carefully decided which pieces would best enforce the flavor of New Mexico, but without a concrete theme.
While Frank will not be able to see the pieces in person until they are on the wall, he hopes that “given the variety of means, messages and mindsets in my selection, I want viewers to take away from the works a sense of — what, ecstatic confusion? Confused ecstasy? A sense that current artistic discourse permits anything to be said in any manner, as long as what is said is said eloquently and efficiently.”
There will be a special session focusing on seven honoree female artists, women being a vital part of New Mexico art, in Frank’s eyes. “No art scene in America has been shaped more historically by women, not simply as patrons but artists. The American West has provided a supportive environment overall to women artists, and if I identify any state specifically with art by women, it’s New Mexico.”
Each piece in New Mexico Showcase adds up to a mixture of different aesthetics, themes and styles, with a multitude of daring and innovative contemporary art pieces. The artists represent over 30 different cities and towns across the state.
Without a doubt, the New Mexico Showcase will inspire and motivate its visitors, just like the many other exciting shows at this venue during its first five years.
New Mexico ShowcaseOpening:6p, Sat., Feb. 4
516 Central SW, 505.242.1445Free516arts.org