Blurred edges

Pasatiempo - - Art in Review - Rob DeWalt The New Mex­i­can

Art on the Edge. The ti­tle it­self im­plies new­ness, bold­ness, and per­haps an awk­ward strain­ing to­ward hip­ness. While it sug­gests tak­ing creative risks, the ti­tle also ques­tions what those risks are to be­gin with. In the world of con­tem­po­rary art, where stu­dio and ex­hi­bi­tion tech­niques of­ten ad­vance as quickly as new tech­nolo­gies al­low them to, the edge is be­com­ing harder to de­fine.

On Fri­day, April 16, Friends of Con­tem­po­rary Art (FOCA), the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art, and guest cu­ra­tor Ni­cholas Baume — chief cu­ra­tor and di­rec­tor of New York City’s Pub­lic Art Fund — present an op­por­tu­nity for view­ers to ex­am­ine where the edge be­gins and ends and, in the process, give the ti­tle of the exhibit a dou­ble mean­ing. In Art on the Edge 2010, the sec­ond juried group exhibit of its kind at New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art and now a bi­en­nial event, a finely fo­cused ex­plo­ration of line, en­vi­ron­ment, and hori­zon places the show’s ti­tle in proper per­spec­tive.

Un­like the 2008 exhibit, which, to the frus­tra­tion of many artists, was only open to FOCA mem­bers, Art on the Edge 2010 opened its doors to non­mem­bers in­ter­na­tion­ally. To sim­plify the se­lec­tion process this year, all artist sub­mis­sions were judged through www.slid­e­, a pay site that al­lows artists to post im­ages, video, artist state­ments, and other text for peer and pro­fes­sional rat­ing and re­view. The 2008 exhibit drew 85 sub­mis­sions from FOCA mem­bers for con­sid­er­a­tion by Whit­ney Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Art cu­ra­tor Elis­a­beth Suss­man. This year’s call for artists so­licited more than 120 sub­mis­sions, all judged by Baume. In each case, seven fi­nal­ists were cho­sen to par­tic­i­pate in the juried exhibit. In 2008, six of the artists lived and worked in New Mex­ico. This year, none are New Mex­ico res­i­dents, though a few have strong New Mex­ico ties.

Par­tic­i­pants in Art on the Edge 2010 in­clude sculp­tor and for­mer Santa Fe res­i­dent Eric Tilling­hast; pho­tog­ra­pher Erika Blu­men­feld (also a for­mer Santa Fean); mixed-me­dia pho­tog­ra­pher/painter Deborah Ha­mon; glass artist Jes­sica Lough­lin; painter/drawer Kate Beck; pho­tog­ra­pher Ryan Bush; and mixed-me­dia glass artist Michael Rogers. Miss­ing from this year’s exhibit is a de­fin­i­tive body of video work, which was pro­vided in 2008 by Brook­lyn-based artist William Lam­son. Tilling­hast, who is also the fo­cus of a solo exhibit, ti­tled Rain Ma­chine, that is sched­uled to open at the Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts’ Muñoz Wax­man Gallery on April 30, stud­ied at the Vir­gin­ska Skolan in Öre­bro, Swe­den, from 1990 to 1991. Af­ter re­ceiv­ing train­ing in in­dus­trial weld­ing in Santa Bar­bara, Cal­i­for­nia, Tilling­hast es­tab­lished a stu­dio in Santa Fe in 1995 (he now lives in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia). For Art on the Edge 2010, Tilling­hast con­tin­ues to em­ploy wa­ter as an in­te­gral sculp­tural medium, a prac­tice he be­gan in 1994.

The fo­cus of his con­tri­bu­tion to the show is Two Tanks (2009), a pair of large fab­ri­cated-steel tanks (one cir­cu­lar, one square) filled with wa­ter and fit­ted with vi­brat­ing motors. The painstak­ingly as­sem­bled, min­i­mal­ist-looking pieces show­case the mo­tion of the motors, as well as the nat­u­ral ef­fects of wa­ter evap­o­ra­tion and the re­flec­tive/re­frac­tive prop­er­ties of light on wa­ter at nu­mer­ous an­gles. The re­sult is a pair of shim­mer­ing pools that re­veal pat­terns — wave lines and con­stantly ap­pear­ing and dis­ap­pear­ing hori­zons — danc­ing to­ward the edge of the wa­ter’s sur­face.

In many of Tilling­hast’s ear­lier wa­ter-based sculp­tures — such as his steel-foun­da­tion 108-inch-long out­door in­stal­la­tion at Sal­ado Creek

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