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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 it—with (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 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.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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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.
View in Alibi calendar calendar

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V.23 No.5 | 1/30/2014
“42 Horse” by Ralph Greene

Culture Shock

A horse is a horse, of course

Culture Shock zooms you around the city creative to East Meets West, Testimonios de una Guerra and Roll, Drop, Bounce.

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news

The Daily Word in Utah gorings, SNAP cuts and a lost Van Gogh

Are you sure that's an original Van Gogh? Where's my magnifying glass?

Russia calls on Syria to turn over its chemical weapons and place them under international control.

The new iPhones might have a fingerprint scanner? What will they think of next? An eye-laser identification system?

A man died over the weekend after falling from an elevated walkway at San Francisco's Candlestick Park during an NFL game.

A man in Utah was airlifted to the hospital after being gored by his buffalo. According to news reports, this is the third animal goring to happen in Utah in less than a month.

Amanda Hobbs, 24, died this morning due to injuries received from a triple shooting that happened in Valencia County on Saturday. Her father, Wesley Hobbs, 54, died after being shot twice in the head, and her mother, Patricia Hobbs, was also shot but is now out of the hospital. Police have yet to pinpoint suspects or a motive for the shooting.

A candlelight vigil was held on Sunday evening to honor fallen firefighter, Token Adams, who went missing on Aug. 30 in Jemez Springs Park. His body was found a week later, and officials specified that he died after crashing his ATV.

Some New Mexicans are going to have to make arrangements when the SNAP (food stamps) program loses some of its benefits within the next two months.

Move over Ancient Egypt; it looks like a modern Eurasian has the market cornered on mummification.

Arts

Off The Rails: Wells Park Rail Runner Adds Two Murals

It’s more than a visual documentation, more than graffiti taking on the moniker of a “legitimate” art piece (not that graffiti isn’t legitimate art in itself). It’s a community project that embraces the quirky world of artistic triumph. Put together by 516 ARTS and the Wells Park Neighborhood Association, in appropriate partnership with The City of Albuquerque Public Art & Urban Enhancement Program, these organizations added two new murals to the existing Wells Park Rail Runner Mural Project.

Jamison “Chas” Banks in action
Jamison “Chas” Banks in action

The project started in 2012, with four murals going up (the lead artists were Larry Bob Phillips, David Leigh, Nani Chacon, Nettrice Gaskins and Laurie Marion). Now it’s adding two new murals by Frank Buffalo Hyde and Jamison “Chas” Banks. Drawing on their Native American heritages, both artists sought to show work that not only symbolizes their cultures, but also represents the interconnectedness of artistic appreciation and the shared experience of being able to view these works forever. The newly completed murals are located in the Rail Runner Corridor, north of Downtown Albuquerque, between Mountain Rd. and I-40 along First Street.

“Inland Empire: A Suspended Animation” by Jamison “Chas” Banks
“Inland Empire: A Suspended Animation” by Jamison “Chas” Banks

“Patternation” by Frank Buffalo Hyde
“Patternation” by Frank Buffalo Hyde

V.20 No.38 | 9/22/2011
“The Overgrowth” by Bruce Lowney

Gallery Review

Quest for the Sublime

Forty years of Bruce Lowney

A four-decade retrospective on display at Exhibit/208 shows Bruce Lowney’s range as a master of the tri-tone lithograph. Collected Works charts his evolution as a printer and visual poet, while making space for his equally impressive large-scale oil works.

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Alibi Picks

Art From Unconsciousness

“Death’s Head Sideshow” by Archer Dougherty
“Death’s Head Sideshow” by Archer Dougherty

In the Jungian theory of psychiatry, the anima is the female element or inner personality in the collective unconscious, and the manifestation of feminine attributes in men. It is also the title of Archer Dougherty’s solo show opening at Stranger Factory on Friday. In Anima she focuses what she calls her “pop surrealistic visions” around strong female themes. She says the characters she portrays are poised somewhere in limbo between childhood and the adult world, trying to tackle internal demons and outside influences. Figures of women surrounded by bright colors, theatrical details and whimsical—and somehow ominous—creatures mark her work.

Anima

Opens Friday, Sept. 2, 6 to 9 p.m.

Runs through Oct. 2

Stranger Factory

109 Carlisle NE

508-3049, stranger@strangerfactory.com

V.20 No.33 | 8/18/2011
“Storm Mirror” by Harley Kirschner
Laura Wright

Gallery Review

Mixed Media Mind Tricks

Abstractions in Balance is imaginative, sophisticated and poetic. The new collections presented by Lorna E. Smith and Harley Kirschner, running this month at the Range Café in Bernalillo, both draw inspiration from the natural world, but contain nuanced differences. Kirschner says “at the core of both bodies of work is a Zen simplicity.”

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V.20 No.30 | 7/28/2011
Untitled piece by Nani Chacon

Art Preview

A Little Bit Spicy

Two artists paint women of the Southwest

Marie Sena’s and Nani Chacon’s art show, Picosa, puts women in the fore: The overall theme of the show is women of the Southwest. “We’re in such a unique cultural climate,” Chacon says. “We felt like that was something that needed to be celebrated and pushed to the forefront of what we’re doing—not just that we’re going to depict beautiful women, but the beautiful women of our surroundings.”

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V.20 No.26 | 6/30/2011
From Eason Eige’s   The Black Series

Art Preview

Succulent Love

A painter’s prickly obsession

Eason Eige has been painting the same subject for six years. Like many artists, he has expressed his fascination with, and perception of, his muse in series after series. But what makes Eige a bit different from the others is that his model isn’t a person. It’s a cactus. Specifically, it’s the prickly pear growing in front of San Felipe de Neri, the church in Old Town’s plaza. When the Alibi called to learn more about The Black Series, his upcoming show at the Bright Rain Gallery, Eige was at home, working on a painting he started in front of the church the day before.

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    Dillinger Escape Plan
    Dillinger Escape Plan4.28.2014