Saturday, September 15, 2007
The State of the Arts
Sometimes, all this "art" in New Mexico makes my head ache. So much of our traditional imagery, while admittedly mind-blowing (we're not called the Land of Enchantment for nothing), has nonetheless devolved into cliche. Howling coyotes. Neon-colored oils of sage and chamisa dotted hills. Twee watercolors of hollyhock-lined dirt lanes and adobe walls. This stuff dominates the walls and shelves of galleries from Las Cruces to Taos.
Newcomer artists can't help it, I suppose. There's so much light and space and air and beauty here, such a juxtaposition of three distinct cultures, that if you come from someplace other than here, you must be bursting at the seams to capture it. And if you're an art-lover, bursting at the seams to have it in your environs.
And natives, I suppose, can't help but capitalize on it. Ours has been a carpetbagging state since the dawn of the 17th century when Spain set out to conquer this wild and ancient land with sword in hand and Bible at breast. It's not that those who have far outnumber those who don't, it's that their pocketbooks are much more deep and wide.
Still, it can leave a bad taste in one's mouth. I found out recently that Tom Ford, head designer for Gucci, had purchased 2,000 acres north of Galisteo that had once belonged to my ex-father-in-law, a cattle rancher of humble status and huge heart. It made me feel like some part of that region's fabric had just been stained beyond repair. Regardless of how much I adore Gucci.
So, anyway. It does my heart good when I come across artists of real depth and talent. Who make New Mexico their base, and who create art that doesn't just speak to one's living room sofa, but to one's heart, soul, and gut.
Interestingly enough, I came across them at the New Mexico State Fair. Each year I make it a point to take one day out of my busy week to spend all day at the fair. I love the atmosphere, the exhibits, the food-on-a-stick. It's the only time of year I indulge my passion for cotton candy and fry bread. And I save the best for last: the art exhibits at the Fine Arts Building, the Hispanic Arts Building, and the African-American Pavilion.
Here is who I discovered this year. Seek them out. They're great:
This one's called "El Diablo Crossing the Rio without Temporary Permit."
Brandon, an Albuquerque homeboy, is only 26 years old.
Kabu currently resides in Grants, New Mexico.