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V.23 No.16 | 4/17/2014
“Abstract Landscape #3,” serigraph, 24 x 36 in.
William Lumpkins

Culture Shock

Warm and fuzzy Lumpkins

Scope Culture Shock for what’s best in this artful world. This week: new William Lumpkins, bibliophile pr0n, urban renewal keynote and famous authors in a Fe movie theater.

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Book Review

Color Me Curious

The Color Book

Sophie Benini Pietromarchi’s charismatic Color Book aims to awaken a love of the visible spectrum in pre-teens (and older readers who haven’t outgrown a nice picture book with lots of vivid spreads to mull over).

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V.23 No.15 | 4/10/2014
“Environmental Impact Team Beta”
Sculptures by Andrew Bell

Gallery Review

Creatures Featured

The new show’s acrylic-on-resin sculptures tell the story of an ominous factory in a world short on resources and long on corporate greed and toxic waste.

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Arts

What to Wear in New Spain

Behind Closed Doors peeks into the fashion and elitism of the past

Doña Mariana Belsunse y Salasar
Brooklyn Museum, gift of Mrs. L.H. Shearman
“Doña Mariana Belsunse y Salasar,” 18th century, attributed to Pedro José Diaz

For over four centuries, the most powerful people in Spain’s New World—an elite group made up of Creole, indigenous and mixed-race peoples—were as anxious as modern-day celebrities when it came to their social ranking and how they appeared in public. Behind Closed Doors: Art in the Spanish American Home, 1492-1898—an exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum (2000 Mountain Road NW)—explores how the upper classes of New Spain wanted others to view and revere them. These privileged aristocrats anchored themselves in displays of material goods and used portrait painting to legitimize their power. Their elaborate portraits were as telling as snapshots of Hollywood stars spontaneously freezing on the red carpet in all of their self-styled finery.

Take Doña Rosa María Salazar y Gabiño, Countess of Monteblanco and Montemar, the Peruvian aristocrat who posed for a painting (attributed to Pedro José Díaz sometime around 1770) in such unsettling ostentation that every inch of her body seems to be sprouting diamonds and pearls. The portrait includes a motley pattern in the upper right-hand corner that represents the combined coat of arms of the countess and her husband—about as subtle as a Prada label.

Free Women of Color with Their Children and Servants in a Landscape
Brooklyn Museum, gift of Mrs. Carl H. de Silver
“Free Women of Color with Their Children and Servants in a Landscape,” circa 1770-96, Agostino Brunias, oil on canvas

Then there’s Doña Mariana Belsunse y Salasar—an ungainly woman depicted by a Peruvian painter (either José Joaquín Bermejo or Pedro José Díaz) in a giant blue shell of priceless fabric. This discerning woman avoided marriage to the man she was promised to (an old fogy pronounced “uglier than an excommunication”) by entering the convent. Later, when the coast was clear, she reentered society and married her original fiancé’s wealthy nephew—the mayor of Lima. She quickly became one with the “in-crowd,” including the countess of Monteblanco and Montemar, who often frequented her salon.

Inca King
Brooklyn Museum et al
“Inca King,” Peru, probably mid-18th century, oil on canvas

As the catalog for the exhibit—edited by Richard Aste, a curator at the Brooklyn Museum where the show originated—explains, every group in New Spain was out to prove its worthiness in a new world of changing political and racial identities. For example, the Creole elite set out to prove their “limpieza de sangre” (“purity of blood”) in complicated genealogies that illustrated a lack of Jewish or Moorish ancestry. What’s more, as direct descendants of the pre-Hispanic nobility, the Inca elite produced Europeanized portraits of their ancestors in order to put themselves in the right light to gain privileges such as the right to hold office.

The blurring of racial lines in New Spain allowed for a greater conversation about what groups are given the right to wield power and a greater anxiety over how various people distinguished themselves from one another. Agostino Brunias, a painter of Italian origin, captured the complexity of the new social rules in his painting “Free Women of Color with Their Children and Servants in a Landscape.” Here we see free gentlewomen of mixed race dressed for a date with leisure—something that never would have gone over in Europe.

Brunias’ smudging of color lines may have been a reaction to casta painting—eighteenth-century paintings created in Mexico and meant as clear visual lessons about the racial caste system in the New World for those in Old Spain. These paintings attempted to delineate a clear hierarchy among different social groups and they depicted people as belonging to one distinct racial category or another. (A knee-jerk reaction to anxiety over the mingling of bloodlines.)

In 1898, the Spanish-American War ended the empire’s rule of Cuba and Puerto Rico—the last Spanish claims in the Americas. But by this time, the conversation about “new world identity” had already been going on for centuries. Who was who? What rank did you belong to? How could you prove it?

Power dresses itself up in many different ways—almost all of them painstakingly deliberate. What comes first, the emperor or the emperor’s clothes? Judging from this exhibit, it's hard to say.

View in Alibi calendar calendar
Behind Closed Doors:
Art in the Spanish American Home, 1492-1898

Runs through May 18

Albuquerque Museum
2000 Mountain NW
242-4600, albuquerquemuseum.org
Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday, 9am to 5pm
V.23 No.13 | 3/27/2014
Red blood cells
All images by David Goodsell

Art Magnified

Inside Information

The science of cells paints a pretty picture

The bedrock of discovery is observation. That’s where a scientific demiurge like Dr. David Goodsell comes in. He’s spent years translating the utterly tiny into the comprehensibly visual.
View in Alibi calendar calendar

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V.23 No.12 | 3/20/2014

Book Review

Not Here, But Almost

The River

The body of water that snakes through Alessandro Sanna’s The River isn’t Albuquerque’s Rio Grande, but it almost could be.

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Arts

Quilt While You’re Still Ahead

Upcycle your denim at Hip Stitch with the Albuquerque Modern Quilt Guild
courtesy of Linda Hamlin
Upcycle your denim at Hip Stitch with the Albuquerque Modern Quilt Guild

Saturday, March 15, is a big day around these parts, and the question on everyone’s mind is: Who will reign supreme when vicious rivals the Heritage Farm Quilters and the Albuquerque Modern Quilt Guild—armed with titanium shears and topstitch needles—clash in their upcoming battle to the death?

Okay, that’s not really a question on anyone’s mind because this is not West Side Story. Though highly skilled with sharp objects, quilters tend to be remarkably nice people. Besides, they’ve got their territories pretty well sorted out by this point.

But I’m not kidding about Saturday. Depending on who you ask, March 15 is either National Quilting Day or Worldwide Quilting Day—in either case, folks will be gathering to celebrate a longstanding art that, much like knitting, soap making and moustache waxing, has experienced a resurgence of popular interest in recent years.

At Hip Stitch (7001 San Antonio NE, near Louisiana), members of the Albuquerque Modern Quilt Guild are ready to put the power of piecing into the hands of the people with free one-hour demos covering two useful skills. At 10am, Linda Hamlin demonstrates the “slice and insert” technique, essential for creating quilts in the easier-than-it-seems “Paper Shredder” pattern. And at 11:30am, Lois Warwick gets fancypants with a demo of a sweet quilt called “Forever in Blue Jeans” that features jeans upcycling, or can be made with a layer cake (collection of 10”x10” squares of fabric) or four charm packs (collections of 5”x5” squares). (Is it just me, or do quilters have the best jargon?) Possibly due to territorial disputes, space is limited; call the store at 821-2739, or visit hipstitchabq.com to reserve your spot.

If your tastes run to the more traditional branches of quilting, the Heritage Farm Quilters are displaying their favorite cozy works of art at the Botanic Garden's Showroom and Heritage Farm (at the Biopark, 2601 Central NW) from 10am to 2pm. This group of adept stitchers has been congregating for more than six years at the Heritage House, sharing their secrets and bringing a timeless art to new generations of gang members quilters.

And if it so happens that a single day of quilting glorification isn't enough, be sure to stop by your local library to scope some of the breathtaking works on display throughout the month of March. The New Mexico Quilters’ Association has quilted gems on display at these ABC branches: Cherry Hills (6901 Barstow NE), Lomas Tramway (908 Eastridge NE), Main (501 Copper NW), Special Collections (423 Central NE), Taylor Ranch (5700 Bogart NW) and Tony Hillerman (8205 Apache NE).

Some people just don't know when to quilt—but clearly, there's a thriving community in Albuquerque just waiting to help them with that very problem.

V.23 No.11 | 3/13/2014

Book Review

The Red Mean vs. The Golden Mean

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: An American Modernist

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, native to Montana’s Sqelix’u (Salish) tribe, and with nearly four decades of roots here in New Mexico, is not a painter so much as a visual narrator. Those with the patience and openness to follow her narrative will be rewarded.

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V.23 No.10 | 3/6/2014

Book Review

Sharing Wanders and Wonders

Places of Mystery, Power and Energy

Worrell is an artist and a storyteller. His book is not so much a volume of polished essays as it is a catalog of his experiences in the Southwest.

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V.23 No.9 | 2/27/2014
“Seesaw” by Lucy Maki

Culture Shock

Cabinet of geometries

Paging Dr. Caligari—Culture Shock prescribes the very best in books and art around Albuquerque.

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    Cowboys and Indian
    Cowboys and Indian6.20.2014