The first Friday of every month is when the West Palace Art District Art Walk takes place. Galleries and museums from the New Mexico Museum of Art (107 West Palace Avenue) to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum (217 Johnson Street) are open.
With more than 40 restaurants and 6 hotels in a 3 block radius, the West Palace Arts District is a "must visit" art destination for both the experienced and first-time collector. Most galleries downtown are open and, of course, there are new shows. At Peterson-Cody Gallery, (130 West Palace Avenue) a lively group show of gallery artists opens. Peterson-Cody's stable of contemporary and Western-style artists is sure to be colorful, representational and fun.
Down Palace Avenue at LewAllen Contemporary, (129 West Palace Avenue,) Bill Barrett's bronze sculptures will dominate the space. Barrett continues the tradition of abstract modernist bronze sculpture made famous by Naum Gabo, Henry Moore and other twentieth-century sculptors. His graceful yet weighty studies in positive and negative space allow the viewer to feel the sculptures with their bodies as well as their eyes. Peter Frank writes admiringly of pieces included in the exhibition, "These sculptures are not bodies gesturing, they are the gestures themselves." This exhibition is unusual for Barrett because it consists of small versions of his often very large sculptures, hence the title, Divertimentos in Bronze. To see a large Bill Barrett piece, don't forget to stop by the New Mexico Museum of Art Sculpture Garden.
Next door at Patina Gallery, (131 West Palace) the sculptural form takes on a different medium and a different sensibility. Patina devotes itself to what used to be called fine craft and would now be called alternative materials. Michael Bauermeister's wood vessels and sculptures are, like Barrett's bronze ones, characterized by powerful forms. Varying from two to almost eight feet in height, their scale also invokes identification with the human body. They are often columnar, broad at the top and tapering toward the base.
After (or indeed in the middle) of attending openings and just poking your head into galleries, stop to have a revivifying glass of wine in a traditional tapas bar on Marcy street or a margarita on a balcony overlooking the early-April Plaza scene. Then head over to Canyon Road for a stroll to see who's open, who's not and who-all is out walking.
After stopping by Geronimo's or El Farol, for some more sustenance, walk up Camino del Monte Sol to Chiaroscuro Gallery, (439 Camino del Monte Sol) where new paintings by local artist Bebe Krimmer and new prints from Jim Dine and Polly Apfelbaum usher April in the door. Krimmer's work is often quiet and intricate, building meaning and mystery through levels of paint and materials. Jennifer Complo McNutt, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Eiteljorg Museum declares, "The enigmatic paintings of Bebe Krimmer result from constructive and deconstructive processes, where multiple paint layers are applied then erased through scraping and wiping. What remains is perhaps accidental, but this is where the magic resides."
Alone with Krimmers's pictures are two series of prints from Albuquerque's Tamarind Institute. The Tamarind Institute has been one of the premier print venues in the United States for almost fifty years.
Polly Apfelbaum's work is a riot of patterned colors and flowers. The artists' large-scale works use a variety of media and often flow from walls, around corners and over floors. The prints bring her transformational abilities to a finite form, but her marvelous graphic sense keeps her work fresh and attractive.
Pop-artist pioneer, Jim Dine is best-known for his ability to take common objects and use and re-use them in a series. Like Apfelbaum, his work is very much about playing with the margins of pop culture and how repetition emboldens and yet weakens the meaning of objects.
On April 11 be sure to go by Karla Winterowd Fine Art (701 Canyon Road) where she opens an exhibition of paintings by Jamie Kirkland. These illusionistic landscapes range from the gentle and pastel to the brave romanticism of Alfred Bierstadt. "I am inspired," writes the artist, "by the vast open space and 180 degree view of the distant horizon. It's my desire to share the peace and tranquility inherent in nature. The simple shape and form of sky, ground and horizon are a balm capable of soothing the restless soul." Winterowd has really focused on artists whose work is accessible to beginning art collectors. Her discerning eye and business savvy make it an interesting place to check out who might be making art out there that you might not yet know about.