An­i­mal pride

TRO­PHIES AND PREY

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - Iris McLis­ter I For The New Mex­i­can

The re­cent killing of Ce­cil the lion has given Peters Projects’ new ex­hibit, Tro­phies and Prey: A Con­tem­po­rary Bes­tiary, an un­ex­pected time­li­ness. The eleven artists of­fer an en­gag­ing, of­ten sur­re­al­is­tic, and some­times mov­ing sur­vey of an­i­mal-themed work. “Most of the artists in the show . . . feel we are play­ing Rus­sian roulette with Mother Na­ture,” said Garth Clark, co-cu­ra­tor with Mark Del Vec­chio of the ex­hi­bi­tion, which opens on Fri­day, Aug. 7. On the cover is Wook­jae Maeng’s 2012 Adap­ta­tion #03 — Big Horn Sheep (with a photo il­lus­tra­tion back­ground).

IN late July, news broke of the death of Ce­cil the lion, a beloved thir­teen-year-old lion killed by Amer­i­can den­tist Wal­ter Palmer on a bow-hunt­ing trip in Zim­babwe. Palmer’s sa­fari — cou­pled with the con­tro­versy sur­rround­ing Idaho hunter Sab­rina Cor­gatelli’s pic­tures of her kills from a South African trip, which she tri­umphantly posted on so­cial media — has sparked wide­spread out­rage, prompt­ing many to ques­tion the value of big game and sport hunt­ing. In light of this news, Peters Projects’ Tro­phies and Prey:

A Con­tem­po­rary Bes­tiary seems es­pe­cially timely. To­gether, the show’s eleven artists — Jeremy Brooks, Un­dine Brod, John Byrd, Beth Cavener, Michelle Erick­son, Alessan­dro Gallo, Jan Hul­ing, Jeff Ir­win, Wook­jae Maeng, Kate McDow­ell, and Ade­laide Paul — present an en­gag­ing sur­vey of mul­ti­me­dia, an­i­malthemed art­works rife with sug­ges­tion and sym­bol­ism.

Cu­ra­tors Garth Clark and Mark Del Vec­chio are pro­fes­sional and per­sonal part­ners who ran gal­leries in Los An­ge­les and New York City for decades be­fore mov­ing to Santa Fe in 2008. Self-pro­claimed “ce­r­amophiles,” Clark pointed out that ce­ramic art­work was “looked upon as craft — and then when that la­bel was re­moved, there was a frenzy to show the work.” Ac­cord­ing to Peters Projects di­rec­tor Ylise Kessler, Clark and Del Vec­chio are con­sum­mate author­i­ties in the field of con­tem­po­rary ce­ram­ics. “I re­cently ex­panded our gallery pro­gram to in­cor­po­rate a va­ri­ety of dis­ci­plines, in­clud­ing con­tem­po­rary ce­ram­ics,” Kessler told Pasatiempo, “so I was de­lighted when Garth and Mark ac­cepted my in­vi­ta­tion to cu­rate an ex­hi­bi­tion.” Many of the pieces in the show are ce­ramic works.

The­mat­i­cally, the art in Tro­phies and Prey is some­times as overt as a head mounted on a wall, but just as of­ten it’s sub­tle, even play­ful. Clark has praised ce­ram­i­cist Jeremy Brooks’ “sly hu­mor,” which is ap­par­ent in works like Greener Greens. The ears of a diminu­tive, jade-hued rab­bit poke through a clus­ter of ovoid, vaguely veg­e­tal green shapes, whose sur­face looks fuzzy to the touch. The bunny’s rounded body, tucked among the soft-look­ing green cap­sules, makes for an oddly se­duc­tive as­sem­blage.

Jeff Ir­win is prodi­giously rep­re­sented in this ex­hi­bi­tion, with more than half a dozen of his earth­en­ware for­est an­i­mals on view. Their milky white­ness feels pris­tine, even chilly; it pays off for view­ers, who can ex­am­ine a form and process un­hin­dered by the dis­trac­tion of color. The mag­nif­i­cent trio of an­i­mals in Win, Place, Show seem to burst from the wall, hooves thrust out be­neath charg­ing heads. Their bod­ies look like painted trees, rid­dled with stumps and cut-off branches, like scars from an axe. “Ir­win’s point,” Clark ex­plained, “is that if you de­stroy the for­est, you de­stroy an­i­mal life as well. A wounded

tree down the line is a wounded an­i­mal.”

De­cid­edly more play­ful, at least ini­tially, is the work of Un­dine Brod, who re­pur­poses used stuffed an­i­mals as cap­tured prey, with car­toon­ishly rounded snouts and fuzzy fake fur. The artist sources her ma­te­rial from thrifted stuffed toys, which she skins and pieces to­gether over mixed-media ar­ma­tures. They’d be cute, but they’re miss­ing eye­balls, an omis­sion which pre­vents any life­like at­tributes a mounted dead an­i­mal might have. With­out eyes, the iden­tity of

Dis­il­lu­sioned, with its shaggy brown head and elon­gated, slop­ing nose is frus­trat­ingly ob­scured.

Jan Hul­ing’s wall-mounted Rein­deer Dance con­tains thou­sands of glued-on seed beads, ap­plied in swirling, mes­mer­iz­ing de­signs. The artist has said she’s inspired by the in­tri­cate, gid­dily col­or­ful bead­work of Mexico’s Hui­chol In­di­ans, whose process this piece cer­tainly re­calls. Kate MacDow­ell’s trio of ca­puchin mon­keys (ti­tled Nurse­maid 1, 2, and 3) were hand-sculpted in porce­lain, and each of them cares for a hu­man in­fant, who suck­les or cud­dles its smil­ing care­taker. A bit more se­ri­ous is John Byrd’s porce­lain sculp­ture of a longhorn sheep, creamy white ex­cept for a nar­row strip of gold be­tween its curved horns. Perched re­gally on a clus­ter of jagged rocks, we at first don’t no­tice the gap­ing hole in its side, which of­fers a glimpse of the an­i­mal’s stom­ach and coiled in­testines.

Be­fore she was a sculp­tor, Ade­laide Paul taught anatomy at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia’s Vet­eri­nary Hos­pi­tal. For her latest body of work, the

Mark Del Vec­chio and I have al­ways viewed with hor­ror the whole­sale de­struc­tion of our habi­tat. Most of the artists in this show deal with this

and feel we are play­ing Rus­sian roulette with Mother Na­ture. — cu­ra­tor Garth Clark

artist ap­plied dyed leather and other ma­te­ri­als to taxi­der­mist’s man­nequins. The el­e­gant deer in Thrall has a gleam­ing, taut coat of turquoise leather, whose stitched seams look like del­i­cate veins. Its stately ap­pear­ance is ac­cen­tu­ated by a can­de­labra-like headdress which sprouts daz­zling gold-leafed antlers.

In ad­di­tion to mak­ing con­tem­po­rary sculp­ture, Michelle Erick­son re­pro­duces ce­ram­ics from the 17th and 18th cen­tury, a spe­cial­ized field that has seen her work placed in na­tional his­tor­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions and pe­riod-spe­cific tele­vi­sion se­ries. Erick­son’s con­tri­bu­tion to Tro­phies and Prey is a trio of earthy slip­ware plat­ters. The crea­ture in Stingray is ren­dered in warm golden tones that stand in con­trast to the black sur­face un­der­neath. Its loosely ab­stracted body is imag­ined in dashes and gen­tle strokes, im­bu­ing it with a slip­pery ki­netic qual­ity. Alessan­dro Gallo must sculpt with equal parts dis­ci­pline and in­sou­ciance. De­spite ex­ag­ger­ated an­i­mal heads, each has a dis­tinctly hu­man body, con­veyed through con­tem­po­rary pos­ture and dress. Gallo’s Betta (Grey Hare) looks like a fe­male col­lege stu­dent, with slouchy boots and polka-dot tights — and the grace­ful head of a long-eared grey rab­bit. The crea­ture looks down at its phone, as if pass­ing time at a bus stop. The fox in Beth Cavener’s Trapped has no hu­man at­tributes to speak of, save for the small me­tal ring on its right front paw. One of his hind legs is os­ten­si­bly caught in the tit­u­lar trap, although only its an­kle is re­strained with a loosely tied bit of rope; surely it would be easy for the an­i­mal to dis­en­tan­gle and free it­self. Most puz­zling is the fox’s fix­a­tion on its un­re­strained right paw, which it gnaws on with opened jaws.

The work of South Korean artist Wook­jae Maeng per­haps most clearly ad­heres to the ex­hi­bi­tion’s theme. Made of slick white ce­ramic, Big Horn Sheep is beau­ti­ful and com­mand­ing, frozen but ul­ti­mately un­yield­ing. Its me­tal­lic eyes are nar­rowed in an icy stair, and its mouth is set in a bla­tantly dis­ap­prov­ing gri­mace. It’s as dra­matic and ar­rest­ing as an an­cient Greek bust — and made with the same painstak­ing, rev­er­en­tial at­ten­tion to de­tail. “Mark [Del Vec­chio] and I have al­ways viewed with hor­ror the whole­sale de­struc­tion of our habi­tat, and the blind, deaf, and dumb global warm­ing de­niers,” Clark said. “Most of the artists in this show deal with this and feel we are play­ing Rus­sian roulette with Mother Na­ture, know­ing that when she reaches a tip­ping point there will be no time for cor­rec­tion.” This ex­hi­bi­tion is a nu­anced, de­light­fully unique traipse through the an­i­mal king­dom that’s both aes­thet­i­cally and po­lit­i­cally provoca­tive.

Right, Beth Cavener: Trapped, 2015, stoneware with mixed media; Wook­jae Maeng:

Adap­ta­tion-Kudu, 2012, porce­lain, wood; op­po­site page, Jeff Ir­win: Win, Place, Show, 2014, earth­en­ware, glaze

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