Ex­hi­bi­tion pro­vides a glimpse into the artist’s stu­dio process

Tempo - - CONTENTS - By Robert Cafazzo

The Har­wood Mu­seum has the largest col­lec­tion of Larry Bell art­works in the world, thanks to the gen­eros­ity of the artist and sev­eral of his col­lec­tors.

Bell has been liv­ing and work­ing in Taos for 45 years. His stu­dio in Taos al­lows him to have fewer dis­trac­tions and a place to con­cen­trate on mak­ing art as op­posed to his other pri­mary stu­dio in Venice, Cal­i­for­nia. Guest cu­ra­tor, col­lec­tor and close friend Gus Fos­ter has cho­sen a range of art that re­flects Bell’s pres­ence in Taos for a show ti­tled “Larry Bell: Ho­cus, Fo­cus and 12,” which is planned to open June 9 at the Har­wood Mu­seum of Art.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is not pre­sented as a sur­vey of Bell’s out­put, but a true trib­ute to him and the work he’s cre­ated with an em­pha­sis on the art he’s made in Taos.

Fos­ter pro­vided Tempo with some in­sight into the plan­ning and lay­out of the ex­hi­bi­tion. The Har­wood staff be­gins the process of in­stalling the ex­hi­bi­tion of Larry Bell’s work Mon­day (May 14). Art­works will be in­stalled and as­sem­bled un­der the guid­ance of Fos­ter and Bell over a three­week pe­riod. Some of the work, in par­tic­u­lar his mas­sive glass sculp­tures, re­quire pa­tience and time to set up. Vis­i­tors to the mu­seum dur­ing this time pe­riod can get a glimpse of the in­stal­la­tion process as it evolves. Upon en­ter­ing the mu­seum, the Ge­orge E. Fos­ter Jr. Gallery of Prints, Draw­ings and Pho­to­graphs will show Bell’s draw­ings, prints and pho­to­graphs from each decade be­gin­ning with the 1970s. Art through these years in­cludes “Va­por” draw­ings from the 1970s and “Mi­rage” work from the 1980s. To the end of the hall, on the for­mer “cu­ra­tor’s wall,” a set of 50 “Frac­tions” will be in­stalled. These are quite dif­fer­ent from what most peo­ple know of Bell’s work. They are 10-inch square mixed me­dia works on paper, a va­ri­ety of small, richly col­ored jewels.

It isn’t un­til Bell came to Taos that he be­gan work­ing on paper in this for­mat. Three “Light Knots” cre­ate an en­tirely new lan­guage of cloud­like sculp­tures, and these will be hang­ing by the stair­well.

The cen­ter­pieces of the ex­hi­bi­tion will be on view in the promi­nent Man­dle­man-Ribak Gallery. These are the free stand­ing glass sculp­tures, “Gus’ Berg” (1975) and the brand new “Venice Fog 1” (2017), both con­sid­ered mas­ter­pieces.

Us­ing ma­te­ri­als and struc­ture de­signed to ma­nip­u­late luminosity, these sculp­tures ap­pear to change de­pend­ing on how many peo­ple are in the room with them at any given time. Fos­ter chose to not dis­play any­thing on the walls around them because an im­por­tant as­pect of these large scale sculp­tures is that the au­di­ence it­self be­comes an el­e­ment of the work.

Fos­ter ex­plained that these two works, side by side, bracket Bell’s ca­reer to date.

In the nearby Caro­line Lee and Bob El­lis Gallery, six small- scale ma­que­tte glass sculp­tures will be on view. Up­stairs, the Joyce and Sher­man Scott Gallery will in­clude what Fos­ter called a “show within a show,” 12 “Church Study” works on paper. Each of these are 40- by- 60 inches, most of which fea­ture a fe­male form or the shape of the body of a clas­si­cal gui­tar. To re­flect the shapes in the stud­ies, side by side with them are a group of a dozen 12- string gui­tars from the ex­ten­sive per­sonal col­lec­tion of the artist.

An artist in his own right, Fos­ter still ad­mits to a “kid in a candy store” at­ti­tude towards work­ing on this project. He looks around and smiles glow­ingly over his vi­sion, which is about to come to fruition. This ex­hibit should pro­vide a clear pic­ture of Bell as Fos­ter knows him, a look in­side this con­tin­ued friend­ship of 50 years. The ex­hi­bi­tion is an enor­mous en­deavor and a true la­bor of love for both of them, ac­cord­ing to Fos­ter.

“For Bell, ex­hi­bi­tions are ex­ten­sions of his stu­dio, ‘ tem­po­rary spaces to learn from the work I’ve done,’” writes Har­wood ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Dr. Richard Tobin in an es­say writ­ten for the show. “The cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion at the Har­wood is no ex­cep­tion.

This is not a ret­ro­spec­tive of a ca­reer span­ning six decades. Nor is it a straight sur­vey of 45 years in Taos, where Bell moved in 1973, set up stu­dio and in­stalled his vac­uum tank by 1976. ‘ Larry Bell: Ho­cus, Fo­cus and 12’ is a rare, vi­car­i­ous glimpse into his Taos stu­dio, a unique look at what Bell has learned from the work he’s done there.”

The ex­hi­bi­tion will be on view through Oct. 7. The Har­wood Mu­seum of Art is lo­cated at 238 Le­doux Street. For more in­for­ma­tion, call ( 575) 758- 9826 or visit har­wood­mu­

Watch for ad­di­tional cov­er­age of this event in the June 7 edi­tion of

Tempo magazine.



ARTIST LARRY BELL, with JanetWebb at left, at­tended the March 18 open­ing re­cep­tion for the Taos Cen­ter for the Arts fundrais­ing ex­hi­bi­tion “Sight Un­seen”

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