Holes in the wall:

Al­cove Shows 1917-1927

Pasatiempo - - Mixed Media -

In March 2012 the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art be­gan an am­bi­tious new se­ries of al­cove shows. Each show in the year­long se­ries fea­tured work by five re­gional artists — all given their own niche for a small, solo ex­hi­bi­tion. The ex­hibits changed ev­ery five weeks, and there were nine al­cove shows al­to­gether, pre­sent­ing pieces by 45 in­di­vid­u­als.

There is a his­toric prece­dent for th­ese ex­hibits that dates back to the open-door pol­icy in ef­fect at the mu­seum’s be­gin­ning in 1917. The or­ga­ni­za­tion was more hap­haz­ard than to­day’s cu­rated model: all artists had to do was add their names to the ros­ter to get an al­cove show. The one-per­son-per-niche sys­tem per­sisted un­til the 1950s and then showed up spo­rad­i­cally in the decades fol­low­ing, with al­cove shows re­vis­ited in the mid-1980s and early 1990s.

Around 300 small ex­hibits were pre­sented in the mu­seum’s first decade. Those his­toric events in­cluded works by Ernest L. Blu­men­schein, Wil­liam Pen­hal­low Hen­der­son, Laura Gilpin, John Sloan, and Ray­mond Jon­son. A new mu­seum ex­hibit, Al­cove Shows 1917-1927, presents a cross-sec­tion of art from the ear­li­est shows, with more than 60 pieces by 24 artists, and re­flects two of New Mex­ico’s artis­tic lega­cies: Ro­man­tic genre paint­ing of the 19th cen­tury and Amer­i­can modernism.

The show is on view by mu­seum ad­mis­sion be­gin­ning on Fri­day, Aug. 8. A free open­ing re­cep­tion takes place at 5 p.m. on Aug. 28. The mu­seum is lo­cated at 107 W. Palace Ave. Call 505-476-5072 for more in­for­ma­tion.

— Michael Abatemarco

Wil­liam Pen­hal­low Hen­der­son: Untitled (In­di­ans at Pue­blo),

1917, pas­tel on pa­per; left, Ray­mond Jon­son: Light, 1917, oil on can­vas

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