Axle In­doors cel­e­brates five years on the move

Pasatiempo - - NEWS -

Five years ago, lo­cal artists Matthew Chase-Daniel and Jerry Well­man came up with the novel idea of an art gallery on wheels, and Axle Con­tem­po­rary, Santa Fe’s only such venue, was born. You never know where it might turn up: in the park­ing lot of Harry’s Road­house; parked in the Rai­l­yard by the Farm­ers Mar­ket; or at the cor­ner of Palace and Lin­coln, out­side the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art. In their first year, the gal­lerists worked with video artists Woody and Steina Vasulka, sculp­tor Paula Castillo, mul­ti­me­dia artist Meridel Ruben­stein, and san­tero Char­lie Car­rillo, among oth­ers. The num­bers of orig­i­nal ex­hibits have grown in the years that fol­lowed — so, too, has their list of artists. Be­cause some of Axle’s projects were too large to be con­tained within the con­fines of its retro­fit­ted 1970 alu­minum step van, the van’s ex­te­rior has some­times been used as an artist’s can­vas. In the last year, Chase-Daniel and Well­man were in­volved with projects at the In­sti­tute of Amer­i­can In­dian Arts, SITE Santa Fe, the Leonora Curtin Wet­land Pre­serve in La Cienega, and the Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. They did spe­cial events, like The Renga Project , for which lo­cal po­ets con­trib­uted weekly stan­zas and lo­cal artists made draw­ings in re­sponse. That be­gan in 2013, and was ex­panded to in­clude a book of all the draw­ings, a writ­ing work­shop, and a panel dis­cus­sion at the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art.

When Chase-Daniel and Well­man in­vited all their past artists to par­tic­i­pate in Axle In­doors , a Peters Projects ex­hibit com­mem­o­rat­ing their first five years, about 150 of them re­sponded, and the re­sult is an ex­hibit of more than 500 works. Axle has in­stalled just about ev­ery­thing that has come its way. The show com­mem­o­rates the gallery’s past ex­hibits with­out re-cre­at­ing them. Most of the art on dis­play is ei­ther new or has not yet been for­mally shown. The ex­hibit fills all the gallery space at Peters Projects, as well as its lobby, where Can­nupa Han­ska Luger’s mixed-me­dia sculp­ture Leave Me a Home — the skele­tal fig­ure of a Buf­falo Dancer — greets ar­riv­ing vis­i­tors. On a wall out­side the en­trance to the main gallery is a to-scale photo re­pro­duc­tion of the back of Axle’s van. Peters Projects’ cu­ra­tors man­aged to group the large num­ber of works to­gether in its gal­leries with some logic, but with­out pair­ing them sim­ply by medium, or in hap­haz­ard ar­range­ments. The only ex­cep­tions are a few works in new me­dia that are set in a dark­ened back room in or­der to show them to full ef­fect. Th­ese in­clude an un­ti­tled video sculp­ture by Bruce Hamil­ton and Su­sanna Carlisle. Photography dom­i­nates in one small room, though it is bro­ken up by some works on pa­per and small sculp­ture pieces. Clearly, ev­ery ef­fort was made for each sec­tion in the ex­hibit space to be co­he­sive while still of­fer­ing va­ri­ety.

Chase-Daniel and Well­man, who have some of their own art in the ex­hibit, have cu­rated more than 75 shows for their van — but Axle In­doors show­cases how well their col­lab­o­ra­tive cu­ra­to­rial eye also adapts eas­ily to a larger venue. Hang­ing the show was a com­mu­nity ef­fort, with the pair en­list­ing, among oth­ers, Craig An­der­son, a for­mer CCA direc­tor, and Frank Ragano, who runs the an­nual Cur­rents new me­dia fes­ti­val, to help in­stall it. Two mixed­me­dia paint­ings by An­der­son, from a se­ries ti­tled Na­ture & Cul­ture , are in the ex­hibit. The en­thu­si­as­tic out­pour­ing from so many artists con­firms Axle’s sta­tus as a per­ma­nent Santa Fe art-scene fix­ture with own­ers who are much loved. It’s also en­cour­ag­ing to see Peters Projects — which main­tains a fo­cus on na­tional and in­ter­na­tional artists, with work less known in Santa Fe than in larger U.S. cities — turn its at­ten­tion to lo­cal and re­gional artists, many of whom have no regular rep­re­sen­ta­tion. This pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to see works that are sel­dom viewed in a gallery set­ting. There are ex­cep­tions, how­ever. Artists Jen­nifer Joseph and Erika Wa­nen­macher are show­ing pieces that were pre­vi­ously ex­hib­ited in solo shows at Phil Space within the last year. The list of par­tic­i­pants reads

like an over­view of Santa Fe’s well- and lesser-known con­tem­po­rary artists, though it’s far from ex­haus­tive: Mul­ti­me­dia artist Jami­son Chas Banks, Taos-based pho­tog­ra­pher Jonathan Blaustein, gallery owner and artist Jay Etkin, painter Eu­gene New­mann, sculp­tor and in­stal­la­tion artist Jamie Hamil­ton, mul­ti­me­dia artist Kath­leen McCloud, glass artists Stacey Neff and Elodie Holmes, and pho­tog­ra­pher Pa­trick Na­gatani are in­cluded. Be­cause each artist was per­mit­ted to sub­mit up to four works, view­ers can get a greater sense of th­ese artists’ con­cep­tual in­ter­ests and dis­tinc­tive use of medi­ums. Mark Saxe’s in­laid stone sculp­tures are an odd as­sort­ment of de­signs — some based on elec­tron­ics — in which pol­ished stonework com­bines with rough, bro­ken sec­tions that lend dra­matic con­trast. Like her other wall hang­ings, Nancy Ziegler Nodel­man’s Free Will is a monochro­matic work made from re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als and found ob­jects. There’s ce­ramic sculp­ture as well, along with nu­mer­ous ab­stract and con­cep­tual pieces and fig­u­ra­tive and nar­ra­tive works, some of them dis­play­ing greater artis­tic ac­com­plish­ment than oth­ers — which is to be ex­pected in a show of this size.

In its role of in­tro­duc­ing Santa Feans to less-known mem­bers of their lo­cal art com­mu­nity, few shows are as in­clu­sive or com­pre­hen­sive as Axle In­doors . Since its found­ing, Axle Con­tem­po­rary has also worked with nu­mer­ous po­ets and per­form­ers. Th­ese con­trib­u­tors were of course not part of an ex­hibit of the vis­ual arts. So Chase-Daniel and Well­man have de­cided to in­clude them by host­ing an af­ter­noon of al­ter­na­tive art forms at Peters Projects: Past Axle par­tic­i­pants Chuck Cal­abreze, Lau­ren Camp, Deb­o­rah Casil­las, and oth­ers will read from their po­etry, and per­for­mance artists Madelin Coit, Ross Ham­lin, Mara Leader and Ja­son Goodyear, and Molly Sturges will of­fer their live work. The event, which takes place on Satur­day, March 14, at 1 p.m., is free of charge.

— Michael Abatemarco

Axle In­doors , Peters Projects, 1011 Paseo de Per­alta, 505-954-5800; through March 21

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