Laila Weeks knows something about making an impact. The artist, whose work has been hanging on the white-bricked walls of Downtown coffee destination Zendo (413 Second Street SW), doesn't aim to dazzle you with a zillion colors and an encyclopedia of obscure techniques. Her current collection uses only one color—an eyeball-scorching shade of red acrylic—and a bit of ink and acid-etched metal. And yet it's impossible not to stare.
Part of what makes her simple abstract pieces so interesting is a telescoping sense of size. The drawings are just 4.5 in. by 4.5 in., displaying small, cell-like shapes and almost-organic forms in black ink on white paper. That sea of red paint nearly swallows up the tiny structures.
Then there are the etchings. Weeks explains that they're achieved “by a process of a resist being adhered to the plate, an acid bath being poured onto the plate, and the acid eating away the zinc coating, exposing the rustable steel beneath.” At 48 in. by 48 in., the galvanized steel sheets find those organic structures stretched and amplified, surging along on shimmering waves of reflective metal.
“Scale,” Weeks acknowledges, “is one topic at hand.”
Experience her work in person at the show's closing reception on Friday, Jan. 31, from 6 to 8pm. Austin Morrell will be on hand to provide live ambient music, and there'll be a raffle and snacks to settle your nerves if you get too lost among the art.
Confession: Ever since I was an 8-year-old boy trying on my grandmother’s vintage dresses, I’ve always been more than a little obsessed with frocks. Imagine, then, my pure youthful elation when I happened into Mariposa Gallery (3500 Central SE) this week and discovered the gallery’s east wall enshrined in more than 140 miniature tin dress sculptures. I think my heart literally skipped a beat.
For me, Marcia Sednek’s Happy Frocking 2014 show, open now through Jan. 31, is jam-packed with unadulterated fun. Half the joy of viewing each of the tiny dresses, which are all made out of found objects, is guessing what the items were before manipulation. Using recycled materials—like antique cookie tins, colorful paperclips, and even a rusty ol’ cheese grater—Sednek twists and bends each forgotten and worn object into a new and wonderful piece of art.
Sednek scours local flea markets, yard sales, and secondhand shops for the right ingredients.
You don’t have to be a child to appreciate the intricate detail that goes into transforming each piece. From the miniature roses on one work to the whimsical circus animals adorning another, no two dresses are even remotely similar.
Sednek tells me that what she enjoys most about being a mixed media artist is uncovering the beautiful in the ugly. Like a sleuth on the hunt for clues, Sednek scours local flea markets, yard sales, and second-hand shops for just the right ingredients for her collection. Then Sednek dons her own magician hat and skillfully alters them into fresh and beaming creations.
While viewing the resulting Happy Frocking 2014 collection, it’s difficult not to slip on your own magical glass slipper and be transported to a posh ball full of haute couture gowns. And, after all, isn’t that really the point of art? To uplift us from our daily drudgery and transport us somewhere magical? Sednek’s show does just that—and you’d be a fool not to experience the childlike wonder for yourself.
“Our Lady of Sorrows” retablo by Salvador Carriaga Lambert
Two retablos hang side by side. Both depicting a peaceful, gazing Virgin Mary. Both were fashioned by Albuquerque natives. However, upon study, the two are quite distinct.
One uses smooth geometric lines to paint an elaborate embroidered dress. In this painting, the Mother of Christ wears a crown, bright blue eyes, lipstick and a smile. She is surrounded my flowy curtains and candles, and the woodwork creates a double frame around her.
In the other, Mary is a bit more solemn. A sword pierces her heart. Her traditional blue shawl is draped around her head and there is sadness in her large brown eyes. Still, splendor surrounds her, even bursting from the top and bottom of the wooden frame.
It should come as no surprise that the two pieces are so different, as they came from two very different sets of hands. One is a retablo by Marie Luna. Raised in Barelas, Luna began receiving awards for her artwork in 1977 while still in high school. The other is the work of Salvador Carriaga Lambert, an Albuquerque teen who has already been recognized numerous times for his cultural pieces and his woodwork; Carriaga Lambert also comes from a family of santeros.
Both works can be enjoyed at The Art of Devotion opening at El Chante: Casa de Cultura this weekend. At the show local santeros and santeras—artists who create culturally-inspired devotional art—will display a collection of their traditional and contemporary tinwork, traditional encrusted art and straw appliqué. Especially highlighted will be the retablos—painted wood pieces such as the ones described above—and bultos—traditional woodcarvings—which have been part of New Mexican culture for generations.
The eleven devotional artists, ranging in age from 14 to 60, will come together to pay homage to tradition and faith, as well to inspire other New Mexicans. El Chante describes the event as a “Noche de Cultura,” an event for and by the community.
“By sharing our cultural and artistic traditions we are able to maintain a sense of dignity and respect for our history and share the experience with the community,” said Old Town santero, Adán Carriaga.
The Art of Devotion is a Saturday night filled with culture, tradition and faith. It is accompanied by another opening the same night at El Chante, Visiónes y Recuerdos: Exhibit 1, featuring work by Christopher Z. López. Both exhibits are free and all ages. For more information, visit El Chante: Casa de Cultura’s Facebook page.
Today marks the tenth day of British street artist Banksy’s “residency on the streets of New York.” The artist’s website proudly declares that his famous—some might say infamous—work will be surfacing on the streets of the city that never sleeps for the month of October. The exhibit is titled Better Out Than In.
So far, there has been a new piece on a wall or vehicle every day—with the exception of the day when Banksy posted an ambiguous but clearly opinionated YouTube video on the Syrian War to his site. Among the street art is an intricately detailed rainforest scene in the back of an old delivery truck, the addition of the words “The Musical” to random graffiti around the city (ex. “Occupy! The Musical”) and the popular “THIS IS MY NEW YORK ACCENT … normally I write like this” spray-painting (below) on the Westside. All pieces are viewable on the street artist’s website and are now accompanied by a numbered tag, and a tongue-in-cheek audio component accessible by Banksy’s 800 number, 1-800-656-4271.
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More than a week in, and it seems as if the city of New York hasn't yet decided how to respond to Banksy’s pieces. While the first was painted over within 24 hours—as the satirical American voice at the other end of the 800 number predicted—others are rapidly being removed from their original locations to auction. This presents an interesting dilemma; some wonder if—in such a cultured city—removing the murals is preservation of art or its destruction. According to The Guardian, Bristol's City Council polled citizens a few years ago about Banksy's art, and 97 percent voted that when a Banksy image appeared in public domain, it should remain.
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While this conundrum is certainly one to mull over, this may be a good time to recognize some of Albuquerque’s own great street art, sanctioned and otherwise. Albuquerque, another city rich in art and culture, has long integrated street art into the urban landscape. Three years ago, 516 Arts hosted an event called STREET ART: A Celebration of Hip-Hop Culture and Free Expression, which left street murals around downtown Albuquerque. Participating artists included Chris Stain, who left a large painting of a solemn, silhouetted working man at Second and Central. Native Burqueño Ernest Doty was charged as the controversial, anonymous Rainbow Warrior, a street artist who spilled smile-inducing spectrums over buildings across the city. At least one of these rainbows remain untouched; whether that's due to cultural appreciation or inability to cover them up, I couldn’t say.
For more street works around the Duke City, check out the Street Art Albuquerque Facebook Page, which includes photos of acrylic and spray-painted works and the streets where they’re located. And to keep up with Banksy’s exhibit from the Duke City, visit the site or check out the #banskyny tag on Instagram.(Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to motivate all artistic adolescents to begin scribbling property that is not your own; some things are best left to the, er, more experienced.)
Back in May, Alibi told you about Edward Goodman, the attorney and animal rescuer seeking artists to transform some humble wooden bowling pins into knockout pieces of art for a worthy cause. Happily, Goodman’s work has paid off. On Saturday, Oct. 5, Corrales will be home to Bowled and Beautiful, an art show to benefit homeless dogs. Twenty-five quirky, humorous and beautiful sculptural objects made from those vintage bowling pins—everything from toucans to saints to cat Picassos—are being sold by silent auction, with all proceeds benefiting Second Chance Animal Rescue and NMDog.
Goodman says he’s “most impressed that, with a budget of ‘zero,’ we have been able to put together a fantastic one-of-a-kind art show and fundraiser.” Indeed, judging by all the swag the event’s managed to round up, Bowled and Beautiful seems to have struck a chord with the community.
Vegetarian and vegan hors d’oeuvres are being donated by Perea’s Tijuana Bar and Restaurant, the Bistro Brewery and the Oasis Desert Bistro, while the Corrales venue, St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church (4908B Corrales Road) has also been offered up at no charge. Even the jazz is donated, thanks to Corrales ensemble Mood Swing. Along with the artworks, products and services contributed by local businesses are up for bid in the silent auction.
With so many thousands of animals in New Mexico shelters, Bowled and Beautiful creatively tackles a serious cause. Put your bid in on a one-of-a-kind artwork to help some one-of-a-kind critters.
A strange new breed of puppet makes its way to Barelas tonight. Hailing from Puerto Rico, Poncili Creacion is the latest experimental, transcendental, elemental act to grace the ring in the Tannex’s revolving circus of mysteries. What we know of their show “Sacred Candy” is wispy at best: Masks will be employed. Objects will be manipulated. Expectations will be subverted. Cosmic questions will be pondered via optics of encrypted meaning.
A glimpse from “Blind Date” by Josefus & Friends
“Sacred Candy” is a labyrinth you will enter in due time. First: Feast your eyes on “Blind Date,” a live puppet + projection sketch presented by Albuquerque’s own Josefus & Friends. Josefus is Joe Annabi, the multitalented member of former bands THEN EATS THEM and Yoda’s House, whose ingenious cartoons you may have spotted adorning the menu boards at Winning Coffee Co.
“I am a huge fan of the Henson style of puppetry, which was a style developed for television and film,” explains Annabi, who teaches puppet making for kids at the Zia Family Focus Center. “It's not just the technical side of the Henson school of thought that I find appealing, but also very much the aesthetic.” His “Blind Date” will feature two puppets of Annabi’s own creation, Foxi der Fuchs and Drabney Lodores (played by Jenni Bage).
The grown-up-only fun begins at 9pm at the Tannex (1417 Fourth Street SW). Cost is $5 to $10, sliding scale. “I think, between myself and Poncili, this will be a very unique performance for Albuquerque,” says Annabi. “Hopefully we can inspire more experimentation on the fringes of the usual.”
You'll need to stand in the middle of Gold St. west of 4th to see this one
It was a Wednesday afternoon like any other. Business took my comrade and I to the intersection of 4th and Gold streets in downtown Albuquerque. Parking on the north side of Gold, across from the historic Simms Building, I ran across the street to deliver Alibis to a certain donut shop that operates out of the fifties-vintage steel/glass enclosure currently best known as the DEA offices on "Breaking Bad." On my return dash across the street I was keeping my eyes peeled for found money on the ground when lo and behold my psyche was confronted with the unmistakable color, shape and message of a third Albuquerque Toynbee Tile.
Watch out for that bus. Seriously.
Cleverly deployed for decades onto streets around North America and the world, Toynbee Tiles appear to have arrived in Albuquerque sometime in 2011, the same year the excellent documentary film Resurrect Dead was released. Read the original story here and find out where the second Albuquerque Toynbee Tile is here. The coda to this most recent find reads "TIME'S UP!" and there's a nifty ashtray to the right. Keep looking down.
Frederico Vigil touching up one of his cartoons in the gallery at Nahalat Shalom
A fresco isn’t like a painting. You can’t just pencil out a few shapes, squeeze some acrylic out of a tube and get going. You certainly don’t freehand it. Creating a masterpiece like Frederico Vigil’s 4000-square-foot fresco in the Torreón at the National Hispanic Cultural Center requires undertaking a complex series of well-timed steps. How complex? Your guess is as good as mine, but tomorrow, Aug. 31, you can learn about the fresco process from an acknowledged master of the medium and view seven of his full-size fresco cartoons at the closing reception for “Cartones del Torreón: Full Scale Drawings for the Torreón at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.”
Along the concave wall of the Torreón, Vigil’s monumental work depicts 3 millennia of Hispanic history in buon fresco, or “true” fresco, in which pigments are suspended in water and applied directly onto wet lime plaster. A skilled artist must work quickly and precisely; the color becomes one with the plaster as it dries, making buon fresco an especially vivid and durable medium. (Rome, you know, still has some nice ones from the 13th century.) As tools for planning and composition, cartoons are a vital stage of the fresco process. In addition, they act as stencils so the artist’s lines can be transferred accurately to the freshly laid plaster.
These seven cartoons by Vigil for the Torreón fresco, unseen by the public before this exhibition, are startling artworks in their own right. Make tracks to the North Valley for your last chance to see them at Nahalat Shalom Art Gallery (3606 Rio Grande NW) from 5 to 7pm.
Every child who attended a Santa Fe elementary school made some picture or papier-mâché version of the infamous Zozobra during their academic career. And then, if they were anything like me and my friends, they proceeded to burn at least one of these homemade depictions.
Zozobra, an often-misunderstood tradition, is as much a part of our culture as are green chile roasting and farolitos during Christmastime. For unfamiliar Burqueños or visitors to the state, Zozobra is a 50-foot-tall puppet, deemed “Old Man Gloom,” into which we cast all our troubles every autumn and watch them burn away.
However, as much as Santa Feans appreciate the tradition, very few dream of the day when Zozobra would become a thread in their lives' work. Santa Fe artist Robb Rael is an exception.
Rael organized a group show featuring satirical depictions of Zozobra. The exhibit’s opening reception happens on Sept. 6 from 5 to 8pm, and the show will run through Sept. 15. According to the Albuquerque Journal, Rael's paintings will be shown alongside the work of at least 10 other artists at his business, Get Framed Inc.
Rael’s work has long included this cultural icon. In fact, one of his designs was chosen as the official Zozobra poster in 2009. In general, his paintings tend to contain various New Mexican cultural elements and icons coupled with use of psychedelic colors and patterns. Staring at his bright, fun displays, viewers are challenged to reflect on the meanings behind them.
Though Rael has worked cooperatively with the Kiwanas Club, which hosts the burning of Zozobra, this show is independent of the annual event. While Kiwanas does display depictions of Old Man Gloom, the organization takes care to ensure that he’s not presented in religious or political contexts that may be deemed offensive. On the other hand, Rael sometimes creates to shock people, as he told the Journal.
The show, titled GLÜM – Madder Than the Old Man, will be full of color, culture and wit. Check it out at Get Framed, in the Design Center (418 Cerrillos, Suite 3, Santa Fe).
In our Instagram world, it is rare to come across a piece of art which clearly and deliberately took many painstaking hours to create, but Albuquerque is privileged to exhibit such a work for the next five years. Andrew Wyeth's “Karl,” an egg tempura painting lent by a private curator, is now on display at the Albuquerque Museum (2000 Mountain NW).
Wyeth is one of the most popular US painters of the last century, known for his dark, somber themes and intricately detailed work. “Karl,” the portrait of a German immigrant farmer, follows suit. The painting causes the audience's eyes to focus on every last color and wrinkle in this man's face, while necessarily noting the dramatic meat hooks on the ceiling. The piece moves audiences to an appreciation of its eeriness and depth.
The portrait is displayed between notable work “A Shower in a Dry Year,” by Peter Hurd, Wyeth's brother-in-law, and the work of Wyeth's sister, Henriette Wyeth. This classic representation of American art can be viewed at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History located on 19th Street and Mountain NW in Old Town.