Wait Until Dark at the New Mexico Museum of Art
While we may associate the term “nocturne” with musical compositions, it has as long a history in the realm of painting. Artists such as James McNeill Whistler titled several of his late 19th-century paintings nocturnes, and allusions to musical forms were among his frequent themes. The New Mexico Museum of Art has its own suite of nocturnes — essentially, nighttime scenes — in its collection; they are the subject of the current exhibition and are on view through April 21. The exhibition includes well-known regional artists from the museum’s historic collection, including Gustave Baumann, Gerald Cassidy, E. Martin Hennings, Louis Ribak, Gene Kloss, and Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as artists who were active in other areas of the country from the late 19th century into the 20th, such as Charles Harold Davis and Albert Pinkham Ryder.
The selection assembled by Christian Waguespack, the museum’s curator of 20th-century art, focuses on scenes that evoke the feeling, intimacy, and mood of the night, featuring several atmospheric landscapes. Waguespack also chose images that depict evening events, such as Cassidy’s Sketch for a Spanish Dance Scene (1920), and nighttime rituals, including Baumann’s depiction of Shalako dancers, a rare oil painting completed in 1923 by the master woodblock printmaker.
At 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 16, Waguespack gives a lecture on the history of the nocturne in art. He discusses the ways in which artists engage with the subject of night and how the theme of darkness manifests in their works. The lecture takes place inside the museum’s St. Francis Auditorium and is free. The exhibition is by admission. Call 505-476-5072 for information. — Michael Abatemarco