Concepts of grace
James A. Michener wrote about gracia in his novel Iberia. “‘Does it mean grace?’ I asked. That and much more. ‘Is it a sense of humor?’ Without one you could not have gracia, but it would have to be a very gentle sense of humor, one that smiled quietly at the inanities of the world. ‘Sometimes you use the word as if it meant good judgment or breeding.’ It includes all of that and much more… there is much in Spain that has gracia which cannot be found elsewhere.”
Jim Vogel’s exhibition of new paintings, Gracia, will be shown at Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, September 28 through October 13.
Vogel explores the concept of grace among the people of New Mexico. In his work, he celebrates the people who work hard and he emphasizes the hands that pick chilis, make tortillas, play the fiddle and caress a baby.
He explains that the old man in At Your Service, for instance, respectfully bowing, is not subservient. Rather, he is solicitous. He embodies gracia, strength, not weakness. The farmer taking his chilis To Market, has been laboriously nurturing and marketing chilis for years, embodying gracia.
Recently, he and his wife Christen, came across a number of frames for the Stations of the Cross, which inspired another series of paintings. “Every family is holy,” Vogel says. His series, Familia Sagrada, was “compelled by a lack of grace” toward families “crossing the desert seeking what every family wants—safety and prosperity.”
In the frames that Christen has “dressed up” using her husband’s palette, a blossom appears in the top quatrefoil. “In a harsh
environment,” Vogel says, “there’s always that potential for beauty.” In Familia Sagrada flowerless cholla appears within the scene and a blossom appears above. In the main image, a man offers water to a migrant and his son—“an act of kindness and grace in a time of desperation.”
Vogel was born in Roswell, New Mexico, and lives in the Rio Grande Gorge, an area rich in tradition. “New Mexico is special because of its connection to Mexico and Spain and its own complex history and geography,” he says. His grandfather told stories and their home was filled with books that his mother encouraged him and his siblings to read. It is where he discovered Michener’s Iberia. Vogel expresses his family’s storyteller tradition in his colorful narratives, full of compassion, humor and gracia.
Familia Sagrada II, oil on canvas panel framed in antique Stations of the Cross frame, 38 x 19½”
Familia Sagrada IV, oil on canvas panel framed in antique Stations of the Cross frame, 38 x 19½”
At Your Service, oil on canvas panel, 48 x 22”