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:

Brandon Maldonado

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.


Doris Rose said...

thanks-again for your research. I can see what you mean, very interesting.Certainly worth a trip to the fair.

Wicked Thistle said...

Ooh, lovelies! I like your taste in arteests. And I applaud you for getting "twee" *and* "juxtaposition" into a single blog! I love the idea of the fair, but not the traffic and knife-wielding gangstas that I would encounter on evenings and weekends when I could go. Not to mention the threat of ferris wheels coming loose at the moorings and chasing me all over the fairway.

It seems to be that the fair, with all of its freaks and treats, would give rich fodder for blogworld.

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

you had me at 'twee'

(a very scottish word). State Fair always has some hidden gems - I usually find them at the Asbury Pie House. Mmmm....Pie...OK, now I'll HAVE to check out the arts.

moi said...

Oh, Lord. The Asbury Pie House. Can you say, it SO sucks that I can't run right now so that I can run that pie off my bottom?

Jenny said...

I would so go to the New Mexico State Fair! Our State Fair offers deep fried Twinkies.... and crocheted covers for Kleenex boxes as "art."

The art you've highlighted is L O V E L Y. said...

Those are amazing, and so very unique. We have a lot of Native American, New Mexico, and Southwestern themed art here. I like seeing new things.

I guess I'm just now noticing that you live "right around the corner" from me. That's really neat! I live real close to the border of NM and CO.