As the United States economic situation devolves to the point where no one can actually deny a glitch, a massive correction or, indeed, a recession, we can look to art as a bedrock of thought, creativity, critique and energy. At the moment, it feels like freefall. We may, indeed, end up seeing a renewal of faith and support of the arts in general as we rebuild the economic infrastructure.
On Friday, October 3rd, Peyton Wright continues its re-presentation of mid-twentieth-century artists with an exhibition of Raymond Jonson. (Raymond Jonson [1891 -1982]: Paintings, 1940 - 1970, Peyton Wright Gallery, 237 East Palace Avenue, 5 to 8 pm) Jonson, whose work is on permanent display at the University of New Mexico's Jonson Gallery, became increasingly interested in abstraction and accessing spirituality through art. Inspired by Vasily Kandinsky and the stunning forms in New Mexico (where Jonson settled in the 1920s), he and Emil Bisttram founded a group of artists that called itself the Transcendental Painting Group in 1938. The TPG, as it was known, followed many of Kandinsky's notions. They were interested in getting to the essence of things, which would in turn create a rejection of the external. "Our souls," claimed the European, "which are only now beginning to awaken after the long reign of materialism, harbor seeds of desperation, unbelief, lack of purpose. "¦The awakening soul is still deeply under the influence of this nightmare." But painting, with its capacity for synesthesia, direct experience, and, ostensibly, transcendence could both heal and teach.
Jack Slentz's first show at Box Gallery, titled Intersection, also opens October 3. (Box Gallery, 1611-A Paseo de Peralta, 5 -7 pm) Slentz, a professor of sculpture at Santa Fe Community College, is consistently and remarkably facile with a variety of media from turned wood to stitched rubber. At Box, Slentz will focus on metal. Using reclaimed reflective street signs and new reflective metal sheets, the artist creates stark contrasts in texture and content between similar forms. In both small free-standing and wall-mounted pieces, he ties planes together into three-dimensional figures with aluminium wire. The wire pokes out from the work like old-fashioned surgical stitches. "The ideas for my artwork come from every day objects, things that we notice and take for granted." But he manages to make those quotidian objects visible again by wittily re-configuring them.
At the spector ripps project space at the CCA, The Mad Framer and the Center for Contemporary Art present a visual call and response between Thomas Haddad and the Humble collective. (Center for Contemporary Art, 1050 Old Pecos Trail) on Friday, October 10 between 6 and 8 pm.
Thomas Haddad is a survivor of 9/11. He was on the 89th floor of the first World Trade Center tower. A graduate of Pratt Institute, Haddad turned to drawing to process and to cope with his experiences of that day and its aftermath. The Bus Drawings Project includes a series of drawings all made while commuting on"¦ the bus. Archetypal and often chimerical, the works combine the social realism of Georg Grosz with the magical evocations of strange creatures and other species.
Humble replies to Haddad with their vivacious, classically anti-establishment art world voice. Described as a "dynamic, evolving collective of young Santa Fe artists and visionaries who strive to create an environment for change in the art market." Humble includes Kiowa-Scotch Irish Matt the Knife Tsoodle, Creek Micah Wesley, Hoka Skenadore (Oneida/Oglala Lakota/Luiseño), Santa Clara powerhouse Rose B. Simpson, and Mandan-Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota, German and Norwegian (whew!) Cannupa Hanska Luger.
Burning, to return to Kandinsky's pure artist and deep-seated consciousness, is a tried and true method of purification and possible rebirth. In the last fifty years, we have seen immolation of artwork ranging from the Neo-Dada tactics of Jean Tinguely and Yves Klein to several neo-Pagan, Goddess-inspired examples. Cathy Aten, in her show and event October 10 and 11, (Eileen Braziel Fine Art, 229 B Johnson Street, Friday, October 10, 5 -7 pm. Public burning of artwork, Saturday, October 11, 3888 State Highway 14, 2 - 4 pm) steps directly into the wheel of existence by displaying and then destroying work whose ashes she will then use to create yet another work of art. The aptly titled Renaissance is: "an installation exhibit and happening of burning past art work. A letting go of the past and paving way for a renaissance."
The artist says, "Many galleries affected by our uncertain economy, one I had very successfully shown with for many years recently closed its doors for good. They sent back the remaining inventory, some of which dated back 10 years. I was so excited to unwrap the work anticipating the pleasure of revisiting my past creations. What I perceived as solid work back then paled in comparison to my current creations; infused with the authenticity of refined values and heightened sensitivities."
And so we see a few of the many ways that art acts and re-acts in a world in flux.