Holes in the wall:
Alcove Shows 1917-1927
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