By Steven Robert Allen
We can dream, can't we, of some better world where art rather than money is king? Sure we can. Allan Rosenfield isn't some lazy armchair artopian, daydreaming about impossible societies built on a foundation of art. Since last year, he's succeeded in transforming his modest Near Northeast Heights home into his very own bona fide Artopia.
Aside from the big canvas "Artopia" sign hanging on the outside, Rosenfield's house at 5100 Constitution NE doesn't look all that different from any other house in the neighborhood. Inside, though, he's turned his living quarters into his own vision of art heaven.
Rosenfield's home gallery has been open for almost a year and a half. Every couple months, he hosts a new exhibit, focusing on local experimental artists. By Albuquerque standards, Artopia has been a huge success. The gallery has generated healthy sales, and it's booked far into 2005.
"My own experiences with galleries," he says, "both as an artist and working in galleries, led me to believe I could do something on my own that would be more meaningful for myself and the artists I want to work with."
Rosenfield's current exhibit showcases his own work along with that of several other artists, including Judy Hatfield, Kenny Chavez, bobb NEOBOY maestas, Linda York, Scooter LaForge and Mark Woody. The art extends throughout much of the house, from the kitchen through the living room and into the hallway.
Rosenfield's large-scale work consists of canvases draped over horizontal pieces of mounted wood. Leather straps looped through brass rivets control the shape of the pieces. The canvas itself is splattered and streaked with acrylic paint. Extending almost from ceiling to floor, these pieces, Rosenfield tells me, are reversible, with separate patterns on each side of the canvas surface.
More interesting are Rosenfield's smaller two-dimensional pieces. Many of these incorporate a kind of agitated gibberish script. In many cases, this repeating motif looks like some kind of alien musical notation, highly personalized squiggles that you need a special decoder to translate.
"Limitless Terrain" is a prime example of this facet of Rosenfield's work. It consists of two long strips of paper mounted behind plexiglass in the hallway. One is simply black ink on white paper. The other contains splatters and streaks. Both are highly idiosyncratic while at the same time recalling Asian calligraphy.
There are, of course, limitations to setting up a gallery in your own home. One of Rosenfield's pieces, "Intricate Terrain," a medium-size work that incorporates sand and acrylic elements on board, is crammed into a narrow, poorly lighted hallway, making it difficult to view. This is a small complaint, though. Most of the work is displayed quite nicely throughout the remainder of the house.
This show will be up through mid November. If you can't catch this exhibit, Rosenfield has big plans for the future. He's particularly excited about a show coming up in February called 500 Davids, marking the 500th anniversary of Michelangelo's "David." The show will feature lots of work incorporating "David" in one form or another. Over a dozen artists are participating.
See for yourself. Artopia isn't just some crazy leftwing fantasy. Rosenfield and his contributors have turned it into a reality.
Outside In, an exhibit featuring work by Allan Rosenfield and other artists, runs through Nov. 13 at Galeria Artopia. 254-0504, www.artopia-gallery.com.
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