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V.23 No.32 | 8/7/2014
“Cat, Rabbit, Owl” by Jim Kopp at Mariposa Gallery

Art Review

Galleries Get It Up

Flights of fancy

Anthropomorphic animals, archetypal trash, Plexiglas forests and cactus mapsit’s all on display at your friendly local gallery.

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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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V.23 No.24 | 6/12/2014
Women prepare for tear gas in Turkey—one of the award-winning images in The Curve at CCA.
Guy Martin

Art News

Shebangs in the Fe

SHEBANG! offers an arts celebration 35 years in the making. And while you’re in Santa Fe, catch a couple other fantastic exhibits.
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dreams

Rowdy’s Dream Blog #348: How to Paint with Watercolors

I receive a commission to paint a watercolor for a girl. She wants me to paint a girl pointing a gun at her. She provides me with a large palette with new grass growing on it, and stones that can be scraped for color. My pal T advises me. He has taken a watercolor class recently.

V.23 No.20 | 5/15/2014
“El Susurro Pasado”
Deborah Rael-Buckley

Arts Feature

Honoring the Hidden

Crypto-Jewish identity and tradition shine in new exhibit

Celebrate the intersection of Crypto-Jewish and Hispano life that has persevered for centuries behind New Mexico’s dusty backdrop in a lush new exhibit.
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Arts

Blossoming Impossibly

Three Harwood artists celebrate springtime

“A Second Life” by Karl Hofmann
“A Second Life” by Karl Hofmann
May has arrived, bringing flowers and new exhibits by three budding New Mexico artists at the Harwood Art Center: Ken Frink, Karl Hofmann and KB Jones. Taken together, the trio conveys a rebirth, a springtime ecstasy, a surge of intense emotions or a revelation. If you come to the Harwood Art Center, be prepared to take in something that we don’t hear much about these daysat least not in the news: Hope abounds, and there’s pleasure to be had in “creating moments of order in a sea of chaos.”

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dreams

Rowdy’s Dream Blog #341: I Meet the Farmer’s Daughters

Song: "All my life, all your life, yer numb, yer numb, yer dumb, and then you die…"

In a field near the top of my childhood street I search for a place to build a fort for my nephews. I examine a shady, overgrown area behind some rusty corrugated siding. An old farmer appears. He is friendly and leads me into a huge house he is remodeling. I see his wife down a long hallway with a plywood floor. In the living room, I meet his three daughters. The farmer resumes painting above the mantle. The middle daughter tells a story about my old friend S. I ask about S’ sister. I ask if S is married.

"No, but close to itwith (girl's name)!"

"That's even better!" I say.

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

Today's Events

Gaga/People Movement Workshop at Keshet Center for the Arts

Get in touch with your body and clean your floors!

Guest artist Amy Morrow teaches Gaga movement. No experience necessary.

AZ/NM Connection at The Talking Fountain

Mighty Thunder Rider Tour: Nik Turner's Hawkwind • Witch Mountain • Hedersleben • Black Maria • stoner rock at Launchpad

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    BeerBeatsBellydance&More
    BeerBeatsBellydance&More9.20.2014