By Invitation Only
New Mexico Pics at the Harwood Art Center
By Kate Lueker-Eaton
Holly Roberts and Miguel Gandert are both solidly established in the landscape of contemporary photography. For New Mexico Pics—an exhibit currently showing at the Harwood Art Center—the two curators invited 10 lesser known photographers, including Joan Myers, David Taylor, Ted Kuykendall, David Ondrik and Laurie Tümer, who in turn invited another 10 emerging photographers, for a total of 20 compositions by New Mexico-based photographers. The show does an excellent job of exploring the scope of contemporary photography in our state.
Miguel Gandert’s black and white photographs of Indo-Hispanic rituals along the upper Rio Grande Valley have been shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian. Holly Roberts’ inchoate, dreamlike amalgams of painting and photography have been exhibited both nationally and internationally and garnered her two awards from the National Endowment for the Arts. Together, they have selected photographers whose work represents a cross section—formally, stylistically and technically—of current trends in photography.
The show includes straightforward, documentary style works such as David Ondrik’s black and white “Zuni Salt Lake,” Jim Stone’s color-saturated portrait of “Trini and His Fighting Rooster: Anthony, NM” and David Taylor’s “Hall of Giants, Carlsbad Caverns” and “Salt Handling Shaft, WIPP Site near Carlsbad New Mexico,” a nightmarish before-and-after comparison depicting a gray, industrialized underworld.
There are also the more painterly, rhythmic black and white photographs of Dorie Hagler, Joseph Morris and Norman Mauskopf. A study in texture as much as rhythm, Hagler’s “El Pastor” presents a sheepherder and his flock from behind, giving an impression that is more evasive than it is bucolic. The roiling, muscular turbulence of the clouds in Mauskopf’s gelatin silver print “Saratoga, NY” counters the relentlessly linear motion of the polo players and their horses.
Laurie Tümer and Tomar Flores’ photographic compositions are metaphorically allusive and haunting. Both are suggestive of contamination, whether chemical or psychological. Tümer’s lenticular prints, “Glowing Evidence: Studies in Red, White and Blue,” reveal the toxic flora harbored by ordinary, innocuous objects, while Flores’ haunting silver gelatin prints imply contamination of a different, yet more indelible, order.
Then there are the staged, allegorical productions of Siegfried Halus, Sam McFarlane and, spectacularly, Patrick Nagatani. Perhaps the most commanding if not the most shocking image in the entire exhibit is Nagatani’s “Ryoichi and Sid” from his chromotherapy series. A partially nude male torso flanked in the background by an anatomical illustration on the left and a red velvet theater curtain on the right is dramatically foregrounded by what appears to be a penis protruding from the torso’s exposed abdomen. In fact, it is not a penis but a stoma erupting through the subject’s intestinal wall. Despite the subtle implication of the anatomical illustration, the photograph’s ambiguity does not suggest colon cancer so much as it phallicizes the manifestation of disease while the title suggests the emergence of a second identity. Upon impact, the image teeters between the gratuitously salacious and the poignantly raw; either way, the work is boldly confrontational.
Far more tame in comparison, McFarlane’s archival inkjet “Over and Over” of a man looking through a window at a decapitated figure lying in a floodlit parking lot not only has the feel of a movie set, it also suggests a narrative backstory.
The broad range and high caliber of the photographic work represented in New Mexico Pics belies its unassuming title and packaging. Don’t be deceived—this show is not to be missed.
New Mexico Pics , a group photography exhibit, runs through July 26 at the Harwood Art Center (1114 Seventh Street NW). A reception will be held Friday, July 21, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. 242-6367.
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