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FORM & CON­CEPT FEA­TURES EX­HIBITS ON ART, DE­SIGN, AND CRAFT

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO - Michael Abatemarco

Form & Con­cept is the new kid on the block — South Guadalupe Street, that is. The ex­hi­bi­tion space opens its doors on Fri­day, May 27, in Zane Bennett Con­tem­po­rary Art’s lo­ca­tion, and is the brain­child of the gallery’s owner, Sandy Zane. The non­profit will or­ga­nize ex­hibits that look at craft and de­sign as high art forms. Its first show, Made in the Desert, fea­tures pieces by more than a dozen artists work­ing in a va­ri­ety of medi­ums. Vanessa Michel is the only artist with a paint­ing in the show. “I def­i­nitely con­sider paint­ing craft. I have a broad def­i­ni­tion of craft,” she said. On the cover is her oil on can­vas Mar­riage of the Sun and Moon.

IT­came as a sur­prise when Zane Bennett Con­tem­po­rary Art an­nounced it was clos­ing its doors last sum­mer, can­cel­ing planned ex­hi­bi­tions that had been sched­uled through the fall. But it was clear that some­thing else was in the works. Gallery signs were never taken down. Sculp­tures re­mained on view out­side the en­trance. Art­work hang­ing on the walls could still be glimpsed through the win­dows. Then, in Fe­bru­ary, Zane Bennett, owned by Sandy Zane, who used the space to in­tro­duce Santa Fe au­di­ences to con­tem­po­rary in­ter­na­tional artists, as well as es­tab­lished and emerg­ing re­gional artists, an­nounced a new ven­ture. Form & Con­cept, which opens its doors on Fri­day, May 27, in the gallery’s Guadalupe Street lo­ca­tion, is a new non­profit de­signed to be a ma­jor com­po­nent of the gallery’s busi­ness, which con­tin­ues to op­er­ate un­der its orig­i­nal moniker on­line. Form & Con­cept is or­ga­niz­ing ex­hi­bi­tions around art, craft, and de­sign in a con­tem­po­rary con­text. “Zane Bennett is go­ing into vir­tual only,” gallery di­rec­tor Frank Rose told Pasatiempo. “We’re go­ing to con­tinue to deal with sec­ondary mar­ket works on pa­per. We’ve de­vel­oped a big client list over the past 10 years, and so we’re able to just work vir­tu­ally.” “I just started work­ing with Sandy in Oc­to­ber,” Rose said. “At that point, she wasn’t sure if we were go­ing to do any­thing in the build­ing. We were get­ting to­gether to fig­ure out what to do with the owned Zane Bennett works, and she felt like we couldn’t just let the build­ing go. We dis­cussed what would fit well in Santa Fe, and our in­ter­ests per­son­ally, which are kind of cen­tered around craft and de­sign.” When you think of craft, you might as­so­ciate it with bas­ket-weav­ing, jew­elry-mak­ing, sewing, quilt­ing, car­pen­try, cook­ing, and other hands-on ac­tiv­i­ties. De­sign can be as­so­ci­ated with home fur­nish­ings and in­te­ri­ors. But Form & Con­cept looks at craft and de­sign’s roles as high art forms. The grand-open­ing ex­hi­bi­tion, Made in the Desert, opens Fri­day, May 27, and in­cludes works by more than a dozen artists, in­clud­ing Arthur López, Lu­cre­cia Tron­coso, and Ar­mond Lara. “We are in­clud­ing lo­cal artists, es­pe­cially in this show — New Mex­ico and Ari­zona is the fo­cus. It’s mostly New Mex­ico and mostly Santa Feans,” Rose said. “As we go along, we’ll see what res­onates with peo­ple, and we’ll prob­a­bly start rep­re­sent­ing artists as time goes on. It’s a pretty big com­mit­ment to rep­re­sent an artist, and it’s not some­thing we want to take lightly.” The art space’s em­pha­sis is not on his­tor­i­cal works, or the his­tory of craft and de­sign, but rather the roles they play as a pri­mary means of con­tem­po­rary artis­tic ex­pres­sion. “We might ref­er­ence his­toric craft from time to time,” Rose said. “We do have some works that will go in the shop by a group that rep­re­sents indige­nous pot­ters in Oax­aca. That work is a lit­tle bit more tra­di­tional, but they do have a lit­tle con­tem­po­rary spin on it.” The shop, a small space off the main gallery, is a re­tail store that of­fers jew­elry, prints, hand­made chil­dren’s toys, and small-scale glass and ce­ramic art­work that’s priced from high to low. The shop fea­tures a ce­ramic wall in­stal­la­tion of Santa Fe artist Ni­cola Heindl’s sea anemone-like creations, which will be on view through June.

Ce­ram­ics, par­tic­u­larly with re­gard to func­tional wares, have long been as­so­ci­ated with craft. Janet Abrams, Can­nupa Han­ska Luger, and Court­ney Leonard, all lo­cal artists in the show, work with ce­ram­ics, though not ex­clu­sively. Luger, for in­stance, also works with fab­rics and other medi­ums, com­bin­ing them in a sin­gle sculp­tural piece. His mul­ti­com­po­nent in­stal­la­tion >^^ii­wii^^< (it is what it is) has a spec­tral hu­man fig­ure, made to scale and float­ing cross-legged, sus­pended in mid-air. The med­i­ta­tive fig­ure is made en­tirely of crisp white pa­per. He’s ac­com­pa­nied by a poly­chrome sculp­ture of a coy­ote and a series of con­i­cal or phal­lic-shaped ob­jects. “It’s a new leg­end about coy­ote and New Age the­ol­ogy,” Luger told Pasatiempo. “It’s about sex and spir­i­tu­al­ity. It’s about con­sump­tion of cul­ture. Th­ese are all tid­bits of what I’m touch­ing on with the piece.” How the com­po­nents of the in­stal­la­tion in­ter­re­late is left to the mind of the viewer, hence the ti­tle. “This space wants to talk about craft and put that into the light of high art,” Luger said. “That’s what in­spired me to do this piece. I work pri­mar­ily in a fine art in­dus­try, but I’m a maker — a ce­ramic artist — and there’s a lot of crafts­man­ship that goes into it, as far as hon­ing your craft. One of the big de­lin­eators for me is func­tion. How do I take some­thing I make and make some­thing use­ful out of the whole thing?” Luger re­gards the devel­op­ment of ce­ramic arts as a cul­tural mile­stone that’s uni­ver­sal, since vir­tu­ally ev­ery cul­ture in recorded his­tory has de­vel­oped tech­niques for work­ing with clay. “I use a lot of steel, too,” he said. “I like play­ing with th­ese ma­te­ri­als that I feel like were tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments in civ­i­liza­tion. You’ve got ce­ramic work. You’ve got tex­tiles. You’ve got steel. As ma­te­rial sci­ence ad­vances and we’re work­ing with com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als and what­not, steel is be­com­ing as ar­chaic as tex­tiles and ce­ram­ics.” With the rise of in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion in the 19th and 20th cen­turies, steel works, pot­tery, and fiber arts be­came mass- and ma­chine-pro­duced. Be­fore that time, as Luger put it, “It was hands that did the work.”

Janet Abrams made out­lines based on Google Earth im­ages of the world’s busiest air­ports and used them to de­sign a series of terra-cotta bas-re­liefs mod­eled on the air­port ter­mi­nals. Her in­stal­la­tion, called In the

Un­likely Event, was orig­i­nally in­tended as a wall piece, but was in­stalled flat on the floor in­stead. She writes of the piece that it “takes as its point of de­par­ture an icon of con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture, the In­ter­na­tional Air­port, a build­ing-type whose global vari­ants ex­hibit ex­tra­or­di­nary di­ver­sity, de­spite the fact that they os­ten­si­bly serve the same func­tion: to move peo­ple from one point on Earth to an­other.” Viewed from the gallery’s glass-floored cat­walk, each small terra-cotta com­po­nent re­sem­bles a cross be­tween a mark made in an un­known or for­got­ten lan­guage, a mis­shapen Lego block, and an or­ganic life form like a cater­pil­lar, in­sect, or plant. The in­stal­la­tion is part of her on­go­ing series, A Nat­u­ral His­tory of

Tech­nol­ogy, which looks at the evo­lu­tion of man-made ob­jects as though they were or­ganic spec­i­mens.

Vanessa Michel, a Santa Fe-based pain­ter and tex­tile artist, is the only artist in the show who is ex­hibit­ing a paint­ing. “I def­i­nitely con­sider paint­ing craft,” Rose said. “I have a broad def­i­ni­tion of craft. A lot of gal­leries carry paint­ings; it’s some­thing that’s well rep­re­sented, so I want to tread into it care­fully. How do we want to show paint­ing within the con­text of craft?” Michel’s com­po­si­tion of­fers a vi­able so­lu­tion. Her can­vas Mar­riage of the Sun and Moon is vi­brant and in­tri­cately de­tailed. It’s a por­trait of a man shrouded in a quilt of kalei­do­scopic, col­or­ful pat­terns. The quilt in the paint­ing is based on a tex­tile of her own de­sign called Walk Like Thoreau, a 9-foot ta­pes­try that took her three years to make. She has six quilts in the show in ad­di­tion to the paint­ing. “I was mak­ing paint­ings with imag­i­nary quilts, and I wanted to make one specif­i­cally for a paint­ing,” she said. “One of the first ref­er­ences I read about quilt­ing was by Joan Did­ion. It’s a pretty over­looked quote where she’s talk­ing about her an­ces­tors, and they’re trav­el­ing across Amer­ica in cov­ered wag­ons, and they had hand-sewn quilts with a mul­ti­tude of stitches. That was the one of the first things that in­spired me. I hand­stitch all my quilts. They take a re­ally long time. But I like the way the hand-stitch­ing — be­cause it takes so long — doc­u­ments time. Thoreau, who’s one of my fa­vorite writ­ers, said, ‘I saw a stitch in time,’ and that co­a­lesced with what I was mak­ing phys­i­cally; th­ese stitches were like mo­ments in time, doc­u­ment­ing min­utes and sec­onds.”

In ad­di­tion, Ar­mond Lara is ex­hibit­ing sev­eral of his mar­i­onettes: thick, hand-carved pup­pets made in the like­nesses of koshare, the sa­cred clowns of Pue­blo cer­e­mo­ni­als. Lara’s koshare strad­dle a line be­tween folk art and sculp­ture, and un­der­mine, not so sub­tly, the legacy of 20th­cen­tury mod­ernism, some of whose pro­po­nents freely ap­pro­pri­ated from Na­tive art forms and other his­to­ries. The mar­i­onettes show the koshare be­hind masks whose vis­ages re­flect fa­mous fig­ures such as Man Ray, Billy the Kid, and the Mona Lisa. Th­ese bold fig­ures are a comic take on the his­to­ries they ref­er­ence. When the masks come off, the spirit of the koshare re­mains. Made in the Desert also in­cludes works by New Mex­ico-based artists Brian Fleet­wood, Ju­lia Barello, Jaque Fragua, Maria Hwang-Levy, and Laila Ionescu, and Ari­zona-based artists Su­san Beiner and Melissa Cody. Although Form & Con­cept serves as an art space, the or­ga­ni­za­tion is tak­ing a dy­namic ap­proach atyp­i­cal of most gal­leries. “We want it to be a place that’s a lit­tle more open, in gen­eral,” Rose said. “We’re pro­gram­ming work­shops and col­lage groups. We want it to be a re­ally liv­ing space.” The first of such pro­grams starts on Memo­rial Day week­end, with a col­lage work­shop on Sun­day. “I think the space fills a nice niche in Santa Fe,” Rose said. “There’s not re­ally any gallery that looks at craft in a real broad sense.”

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