Contributed by Katie Fuller / On a recent trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, I was eager to check out the growing art scene in the Railyard Arts District. Being accustomed to New York, where space tends to be tight, I felt the invigorating abundance of venues like Form & Concept, LewAllen Galleries, and SITE Santa Fe, where the artwork on display had plenty of room to breathe.
At Form & Concept, Wesley Anderegg has a show of comedic and slightly troubling ceramic tiles. In true tile form, these pieces rarely diverge from the reassuring square format, in which Anderegg depicts stiff images that each represent a singular moment in time. Taken together, though, they reflect a more anarchical, psychic world informed by Arizonian life.
The bodies of people and animals in these works take on the characteristics of the desert landscape. Humorous parallels arise. The figure in 2 Headed Man (Rob-Bob), for instance, mimics the cactus behind the man in Drinking Beer. The bodies are perpetually stiff, and human emotion is slyly manipulated. Hence, a man leisurely floating in a pool and another who has fallen into a cactus have improbably similar expressions. In Anderegg’s mind, the rules of physics and biology are apparently capricious.
Next there was a jewelry and sculpture show by Debra Baxter. Her sculptures, meticulously constructed with hard materials like glass, fluorite, and alabaster, appear to be soft and fabric-like, visually defying their own physical characteristics. I found her piece Soft Landing (or crashing and burning), based on Albrecht Dürer’s drawing Six Pillows, to be conceptually and visually reminiscent of Eva Hesse’s work.
At LewAllen Galleries, I saw “The Garden Paintings” a solo show featuring work by Esteban Vicente, an abstract painter and founding member of the New York Studio School, who died in 2001. He painted this soft and gestural series while in his 90s, inspired by his garden in Bridgehampton, New York. The paintings are visually balanced in their three fundamental elements – space, form, and color. The colors are typically close in hue, encouraging the eye to try and determine which forms are in the foreground and which are in the background. Vicente’s subtle blending of the paint establishes a quiet natural milieu. But he occasionally indulges energetic, directional strokes and vibrant hues that reference momentary instability. The upshot seems to be that the garden was a source of both serenity and excitement for Vicente.
In another room at LewAllen is “Light from Afar,” an exhibition of Kiyoshi Nakagami’s recent paintings. An intense meditative energy radiates from these works. Nakagami masterfully depicts otherworldly, billowing forms that each have a distinctive mood. He accomplishes this through a careful application of gold-inflected mica that represents glowing light. The light emerges patiently from a black background exposing forms that resemble smoke, waves, and deep canyons. The languid transience that Nakagami captures caused me to slow down and sharpen my attention. Nakagami’s pieces have a tragic and reverential sensibility that emerges vividly when they are seen in person.
I saw many other notable works throughout the neighborhood, including a number of terrific paintings at SITE Santa Fe. Here are a few pieces that caught my eye:
About the author: Originally from Louisiana, Katie Fuller is a graduate of the BFA Fine Arts program at Parsons, The New School. Her focus is in painting, assemblage, and writing. She currently works as an editorial assistant at Two Coats of Paint.
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