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V.23 No.29 | 7/17/2014
David Santiago’s enigmatic faces are unmistakable.

Art Scenester

MAS Attack Ready to Blitz the Albuquerque Art Scene

Artists need admirers, and no one admires art more than other artists. That’s the driving force between a one-night-only Mutual Admiration Society.
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V.23 No.26 | 6/26/2014
More fun indeed
Billy McCall

Culture Shock

The nekkid eye

Journey into the exposed heart of Burque’s artworld with a celebration of the body, a drama about family and poetry to scare zealous patriots.

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V.23 No.25 | 6/19/2014
“Ariadne’s Gift” by Carol Chase Bjerke

Arts Feature

Pigments and Ailments

Group exhibit grapples with illness and survival

Tenacity and optimism shine from the dark heart of artwork inspired by life-threatening disease.
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Arts

Their Hearts Into Art

Incarcerated students’ work exhibits ingenuity and passion


[click to enlarge]
Ronald Chavez aka Dreamer
“Envelope art is a strong tradition in the jails,” says Juli Cobb. “We will have a number of them displayed at the Library. Most students work with ball point pens and the detail and shading is remarkable.”
[click to enlarge]
Hendrick Yellowhorse
“Envelope art is a strong tradition in the jails,” says Juli Cobb. “We will have a number of them displayed at the Library. Most students work with ball point pens and the detail and shading is remarkable.”
Where Juli Cobb teaches, the school uniform is orange, the attendance rate is almost perfect, and the atmosphere can be stressful: “There are doors that clang and dogs that come in and sniff things,” she says.

Cobb’s art students are inmates at the Bernalillo Metropolitan Detention Center. They study at the Gordon Bernell Charter Schoolone of only two full high schools in the US housed in a jail. (The other one is in San Francisco.)

The students have to be creative at developing projects from the get-go. “I can’t bring many things in there that are second nature to an art teacher,” Cobb says. Everything is a potential weapon, including scissors and heavy objects. Even ink is forbidden in order to prevent illicit prison tattoos.

So when they were supposed to design objects for the OFFCenter Community Arts Project’s “Albuquirky Little Houses” Silent Auction, for which artists usually construct diminutive homes out of wood, Cobb was at a loss. She bunted the problem to her class and the resourceful students decided to draw the shapes onto paper and collage together the walls of each house.

Quirky houses decorated by Gordon Bernell students
Ron Breen
Quirky houses decorated by Gordon Bernell students
Home is where I left my heART: Writings and Art for Our Families from Afar, the Gordon Bernell students’ upcoming exhibit at the Special Collections Library (423 Central NE), will put similar creative solutions on display with a collaborative quilt of collages expressing memories of the students' kitchen tables and several collaborative mosaics of mini-masterpiece paintings. In addition, you can scope envelope art, handmade poetry books and more from Cobb’s students and those of colleague and co-exhibit coordinator Andrea Fletcher.

Cobb’s average students are in their early twenties to mid-thirties. “If they have a GED but they don’t have a diploma, they can take classes,” Cobb explains. The students tend to be highly motivated yet extremely unsure of themselves. Unlike some teenage “know-it-alls” in regular high schools, these older students suffer from real problems with self-esteem. And when students come in depressed, “something is going on.” Are they worrying about a court date? Are they missing their children?

However, mostly the students are lighthearted in class. “I’ve got a ton of students now that I care about,” Cobb says. “The classes are so joyful. They love being in school.” See that love and redemption shining through at the opening reception for Home is where I left my heart on Thursday, May 22, from 4 to 6:30pm.

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Home is where I left my heART:
Writings and Art for Our Families from Afar
opening reception

Exhibit continues through June 21

Thursday, May 22, 4 to 6:30pm

Special Collections Library
423 Central NE
abclibrary.org/specialcollections, 848-1376
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 10am-6pm; Thursday 11am-7pm; closed Sunday and Monday
V.23 No.19 | 5/8/2014
“The Church at Ranchos de Taos” by Bill Wittliff

Get Lit

Light Looking Back

With their indefinite lines and smoothed-away textures, pinhole photographs hearken to a long-ago time. But Poetics of Light brings the technology firmly into the 21st century.

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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 Worldan elite group made up of Creole, indigenous and mixed-race peopleswere 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, 1492-1898an 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 husbandabout 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 Salasaran 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 nephewthe 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 exhibitedited by Richard Aste, a curator at the Brooklyn Museum where the show originatedexplains, 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 leisuresomething that never would have gone over in Europe.

Brunias’ smudging of color lines may have been a reaction to casta paintingeighteenth-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 Ricothe 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 waysalmost all of them painstakingly deliberate. What comes first, the emperor or the emperor’s clothes? Judging from this exhibit, it's hard to say.

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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.6 | 2/6/2014
“Ace of My Heart”
Denise Weaver Ross

Arts Feature

My Heart Is in the Trees

And under a giant sea bird

Temporarily unemployed people fend off boredom in various ways. Some of us learn how to play “Hava Nagila” on the ukulele and bang out the entire five seasons of “Friday Night Lights.” Others fashion an elaborate 18-foot albatross from cardboard in their parents’ living room.
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Today's Events

ABurlyQ! A Burlesque & Sideshow Spectaculár! at African American Performing Arts Center

Gilded Cage Burlesk & Varieté and Trend Groups present a festival to honor burlesque, vaudeville, sideshow, belly dance and more.

Asphalt Cowboys • country at Dirty Bourbon

Dance Happy Hour at Studio Sway

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