Tra­di­tion­ally un­tra­di­tional

Pasatiempo - - Onstage This Week - Dou­glas Fair­field The New Mex­i­can

Now into his third year as di­rec­tor of pub­lic re­la­tions for the sum­mer Con­tem­po­rary His­panic Mar­ket and its win­ter in­car­na­tion, self­taught artist Robb Rael said he more or less in­her­ited the role from his mother, Judy Or­tiz. “The job was kind of dumped in my lap. But that was OK by me since I was al­ready help­ing my mother do it,” Rael said in an in­ter­view at his fram­ing busi­ness, Get Framed Inc., at the De­sign Cen­ter on Cer­ril­los Road. “My mother had been on the mar­ket com­mit­tee in var­i­ous ca­pac­i­ties for about 12 years, and she wanted a break.”

For Rael— the artist, not the pub­lic-re­la­tions guy— this is his sixth year as an ex­hibitor at Con­tem­po­rary His­panic Mar­ket. His first time was in 2004 af­ter hav­ing been re­jected twice in pre­vi­ous years. (All the artists who par­tic­i­pate in sum­mer mar­ket are in­vited to exhibit at win­ter mar­ket.) “Art was re­ally a secondary in­ter­est for me. My first love was mu­sic, with hopes of be­com­ing a rock star,” he said and laughed. “My wife— now my ex-wife— was the one who ex­posed me to a world of art, which got me in­ter­ested. But my mother has been a tra­di­tional painter for more than 30 years, and her work was an in­spi­ra­tion for me as a kid. I would watch her paint at night, then go into my room and draw.”

Rael’s art, how­ever, is far from tra­di­tional. “My work takes from comic book art, graf­fiti art, Pop Art, and il­lus­tra­tion, but my tech­nique is more painterly than any of those,” he said. And not only does Rael draw and paint on pa­per and can­vas, but he also pro­duces im­agery on skate­board planks. “The great­est com­pli­ment I ever got about my art was from a neigh­bor, who said I was a ‘ con­tem­po­rary van Gogh.’ And once, some­body com­pared my work to that of Pop artist Peter Max, who I had never heard of be­fore. But many have ref­er­enced my art to Jim Vo­gel’s, whose stuff I love. We both de­pict His­panic life in New Mex­ico us­ing bold colors, ex­ag­ger­ated shapes, and lots of move­ment in our styles.”

Even­tide and Stranger in a Strange Land are good ex­am­ples of Rael’s work. He plans to exhibit them at the Ninth An­nual Con­tem­po­rary His­panic Win­ter Mar­ket, held Fri­day and Satur­day, Nov. 27 and 28, at El Museo Cul­tural de Santa Fe.

Guide­lines for en­try into the mar­ket in­clude a rig­or­ous jury process by a panel of art pro­fes­sion­als whose mem­ber­ship ro­tates from year to year. Typ­i­cally, judges are mu­seum direc­tors, cu­ra­tors, gallery own­ers, and es­tab­lished artists not as­so­ci­ated with the mar­ket in any par­tic­u­lar year. “Judg­ing takes place the end of Jan­uary for the sum­mer mar­ket,” Rael said. “What they look for is orig­i­nal­ity, qual­ity, a thor­ough knowl­edge of your medium, and ev­ery­thing must be hand-done. Artists must also be New Mex­ico res­i­dents and be at least one-quar­ter Latino de­scent.” Work in all medi­ums is con­sid­ered, in­clud­ing paint­ing, sculp­ture, works on pa­per, jew­elry, photography, fur­ni­ture, ce­ram­ics, and mixed me­dia.

Rael es­ti­mates that, in any given year, the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee re­ceives about 100 sub­mis­sions for 20 to 30 open slots not taken by re­turn­ing artists, and he be­lieves that’s good for younger artists, even though the com­pe­ti­tion is tough. In the past, judg­ing was done by slides, but that process was deemed un­fair be­cause slides never ac­cu­rately con­veyed the qual­ity — or lack of qual­ity — of some­one’s work. Artists are now asked to hand-de­liver four or five orig­i­nal pieces for re­view. Ev­ery five to seven years, all ex­hibit­ing artists are re­viewed, which Rael sees as good pol­icy. “To be blunt, some artists can get lazy and de­serve to be weeded out,” he said.

“Win­ter mar­ket is usu­ally smaller [than sum­mer mar­ket], with only about 50 artists as op­posed to more than 100 dur­ing the sum­mer,”

he said. “As a re­sult, win­ter mar­ket is more lo­cal in fla­vor, and items are gen­er­ally smaller in size and more af­ford­able for hol­i­day buy­ing.” He added that artists keep 100 per­cent of their earn­ings at win­ter mar­ket but pay $150 to $175 for a booth.

Among those sched­uled to show at the win­ter mar­ket, along with Rael, are Mar­ion Martinez and Michelle Tapia. Tapia is a Santa Fe sil­ver­smith who has shown at mar­ket for nine years. “The Con­tem­po­rary His­panic Mar­ket is re­ally a dream come true for me,” she said via e-mail. “I al­ways wanted to be in the show and loved looking at all the tal­ented His­panic artists who have gone be­yond tra­di­tion.” For her jew­elry, Tapia uses 14-karat and 18-karat gold as well as ster­ling sil­ver, does her own lap­idary, and works in scrimshaw— carv­ing bone and ivory. “I only use fos­silized wal­rus tusk [for my scrimshaw], which is thou­sands of years old and dug up by Na­tive Alaskans and sold. ... I never use fresh wal­rus or ele­phant ivory,” she said.

By any mea­sure, Martinez’s cre­ations are among the more un­usual and creative when com­pared with those of her mar­ket peers. Martinez has been as­so­ci­ated with Con­tem­po­rary His­panic Mar­ket since 1993. “My work sym­bol­izes the bridg­ing of my cul­ture’s tra­di­tional im­agery with the mod­ern world,” she said from her stu­dio in Glo­ri­eta. “We live in a su­per-high-speed tech­no­log­i­cal era where tra­di­tional im­agery can eas­ily be dis­posed of. Us­ing this medium [re­cy­cled com­puter cir­cuit boards and other tech­no­log­i­cal finds] brings the beauty of our cul­tural his­tory to­gether with a 21st-cen­tury wow!”

Ac­cord­ing to Rael, this year’s win­ter mar­ket will be spe­cial for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. “The en­vi­ron­ment of the Rai­l­yard District, our prox­im­ity to the new farm­ers mar­ket, and the new gallery scene there all lend them­selves to our event. But the show by it­self has al­ways had a fam­ily vibe to it, which is great for the artists and the pub­lic. It’s when we can all hang out and get to see what ev­ery­body has been do­ing the past year, see­ing new work, new ideas.”

Michelle Tapia: She Dreamt She Was a Dragon­fly, 2009, ster­ling sil­ver, 14-karat gold, fos­silized wal­rus tusk scrimshaw, and semi-pre­cious stones, 2.5 x 2.25 inches

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.