Space el­e­ments

Al­coves 16/17.3 at the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS -

COMA BERENICES IS A CLUS­TER OF STARS lo­cated near the con­stel­la­tion Leo. The name trans­lates as Berenice’s Hair and is taken from an an­cient story about Queen Berenice II of Egypt, wife of Ptolemy III Euer­getes. The queen made an of­fer­ing of her hair to Aphrodite in ex­change for her hus­band’s safe re­turn from war, but the hair dis­ap­peared from the god­dess’s tem­ple. Conon of Samos, the court as­trologer, ex­plained that the of­fer­ing had so pleased Aphrodite that the god­dess added the queen’s hair to the man­tle of stars. Al­coves 16/17.3, the third in the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art’s year­long se­ries of small solo ex­hi­bi­tions, in­cludes a sculp­tural piece by lo­cal artist Heidi Pol­lard that was in­spired by the tale of the Egyp­tian queen. Berenice’s Hair is a wall hang­ing com­posed of a se­ries of ver­ti­cal paint stir­rers thick with con­gealed paint. The work it­self has no ob­vi­ous con­nec­tion to the leg­end. “There’s a story there, but it’s a pretty ab­stract ob­ject, re­ally,” Pol­lard told Pasatiempo. She joins Tom Joyce, El­iza Naranjo Morse, Ce­cilia Por­tal, and Christina Dal­las for the lat­est in the mu­seum’s round of al­cove shows, which are set in small gal­leries sit­u­ated on the ground floor. The con­tem­po­rary al­cove shows are mod­eled on sim­i­lar ex­hibits the mu­seum started in its in­fancy when it main­tained a open-door pol­icy; artists added their names to a list and, even­tu­ally, got an al­cove show. The ex­hi­bi­tion se­ries ex­tends into 2017 in ad­vance of the mu­seum’s cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tion. The ma­jor­ity of Pol­lard’s works on view are paint­ings. They are pri­mar­ily ab­stract with a hint of rep­re­sen­ta­tional im­agery. “My paint­ings seem to oc­cupy this kind of mid­dle ground of ab­strac­tion that glo­ries in the ma­te­rial of the work, and im­agery that is sug­ges­tive of things that are fa­mil­iar to us,” she said. “It gives me kind of a range, and it seems to be my nat­u­ral lan­guage.” Her paint­ings are a com­bi­na­tion of del­i­cate lin­ear forms, large shapes, swaths of bril­liant color, and pat­terns, whether it’s the wo­ven pat­terns of her paint­ing Di­a­mond Mind High­way or her com­po­si­tion called Ear, or the hon­ey­comb pat­tern of Bur­geon and its con­fla­tions of small and large el­e­ments. “It’s al­most like you have have a mi­cro­scope and a tele­scope col­lapsed into one where you can kind of zoom in and zoom out. Within one im­age, th­ese things be­come macro or mi­cro. They are part of my reg­u­lar vo­cab­u­lary. I let them make their ap­pear­ances as if the paint­ing is kind of a stage that ac­tors are en­ter­ing and ex­it­ing.”

Pol­lard ti­tles her works only when a name presents it­self, start­ing the paint­ing process with, at most, only a glim­mer of a sub­ject. “It can be as sim­ple as a color or cer­tain turn of the light or a shape. Some­times the paint­ings re­ally do kind of ti­tle them­selves. Some­times they’ll al­most be speak­ing to me, say­ing ‘This is my ti­tle,’ and other times there’s noth­ing.”

Pol­lard is an in­tu­itive painter, al­low­ing an el­e­ment of spon­tane­ity into her works. “I used to try to have im­por­tant ideas about all of this, but I’ve sur­ren­dered to the fact that there’s a world in there, and if I just re­lax, lis­ten, and look, every­thing kind of shows up. The paint­ing Di­a­mond Mind High­way is a ref­er­ence to how the mind works. I al­low all th­ese things that are rat­tling around to just sur­face.”

The works in Al­coves 16/17.3 have no uni­fy­ing theme, and the pieces, as well as the pro­cesses used to cre­ate them, are di­verse. Tom Joyce is known pri­marly for his metal sculp­ture but also works in mixed me­dia and is show­ing some two-di­men­sional pho­to­graphic works along with Surge I, Surge II, and

Surge III, a se­ries of high-car­bon steel sculp­tures. Joyce pre­miered the re­sults of his re­cent ven­tures into dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy and video last year in his show

After­shock at James Kelly Con­tem­po­rary. Cuban-born pho­tog­ra­pher Ce­cilia Por­tal’s early works are in­formed by her ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing an im­mi­grant. Re­cent im­ages, which are in­cluded in the show, are from La Vida de lo Blanco (The Life of White), a body of ab­stract works that in­cludes three sec­tions or chap­ters: Capí­tulo Uno, Blanco so­bre Cartón (Chap­ter One, White on Card­board); Capí­tulo Dos, Blanco so­bre Pa­pel (Chap­ter Two, White on Pa­per); and Capí­tulo Tres, Blanco So­bre As­falto (Chap­ter Three, White on As­phalt). The last im­ages are of high­way lines that stand out in sharp con­trast to the dark pave­ment that sur­rounds them.

El­iza Naranjo Morse con­trib­utes a sculp­tural in­stal­la­tion called The Space Be­tween, part of the se­ries Univer­salies. The in­stal­la­tion’s ti­tle ref­er­ences

the space be­tween mol­e­cules, and the work is in­spired by the idea of an artist’s work­ing space and prac­tice as some­thing that lies within the range of ev­ery­day life, and not out­side of it.

Christina Dal­las is a por­trait pho­tog­ra­pher show­ing se­lec­tions from Se­cret Sig­nals, Teen An­gel Magic Spirit Pho­tog­ra­phy, im­ages de­rived from hand sig­nals in­clud­ing bless­ings, mu­dras, gang signs, and mag­i­cal signs. “I just moved back six months ago to Santa Fe,” said Dal­las, who spent the past few years liv­ing in Brook­lyn and who is a former Albuquerque res­i­dent and grad­u­ate of the Univer­sity of New Mex­ico. Dal­las has had a di­verse ca­reer as a win­dow-dis­play de­signer, a prop stylist and set de­signer for film and tele­vi­sion, and a pho­tog­ra­pher. “I’ve al­ways done dif­fer­ent ver­sions of por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy. When I first moved out here, I re­ally liked a lot of the peo­ple that were work­ing in New Mex­ico at the time, like Joel-Peter Witkin. They had a very good pho­tog­ra­phy pro­gram at UNM. I was re­ally, re­ally in­flu­enced by the whole stage set-up for the cam­era.”

Dal­las’ pho­tog­ra­phy in­volves mak­ing small staged sets out­fit­ted with props, and her mod­els are dressed in cos­tumes. Each por­trait sub­ject is mak­ing some kind of hand sign or sig­nal, and each is sur­rounded by sym­bols de­rived from world re­li­gions, ob­jects of magic and rit­ual, and graf­fiti. The ti­tle of the se­ries is de­rived from Teen An­gels

Mag­a­zine, which she col­lected when liv­ing for a time in Los An­ge­les. “The pho­tographs also ref­er­ence the mag­i­cal prop­er­ties of the pho­to­graphic process,” she said. Dal­las is in­spired by spirit pho­tog­ra­phy, a prac­tice in which pho­tog­ra­phers at­tempt to cap­ture an im­age of a ghost, a spirit, or per­haps a per­son’s aura. “In essence, th­ese im­ages were us­ing signs and sym­bols in a way that a ma­gi­cian might, with the cam­era as their wit­ness, the cam­era as a tool of magic, a con­duit of light that can trans­form spirit into mat­ter.”

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