Darla Hallmark wants to see more nudes in Albuquerque's art scene.
"It's as important as any other genre," Hallmark says. "It's part of life, and to leave it out would leave a hole in art in general."
Six years ago, Hallmark became frustrated trying to get her work shown in Albuquerque. Her pieces were denied because galleries were uncomfortable displaying nudity in their spaces. She decided to create an outlet for herself and other artists to showcase the controversial pieces the galleries would not. That's what Hallmark's Eyegasm Erotic Art Show is all about. "Sex goes bad if it's repressed," Hallmark says. "There are some wonderful artists that have works that galleries won't take because the owners have allowed the vocal minority to intimidate them."
Hallmark contends that because people protest nude and erotic art, galleries are scared to hang it on their walls. But Joan Fenicle, the coordinating director for the Albuquerque Art Business Association, disagrees. While Fenicle says she's against censorship of art, she doesn't think gallery owners who don't show nude work are bowing to the wishes of the ultra religious. Rather, the galleries are listening to their customers and giving them what they want. "Our art galleries in today's economy are barely keeping their doors open," Fenicle says. "They need to sell what's commercially viable, otherwise their artists don't make money and they have to close."
Fenicle is glad shows like Eyegasm happen, but she says the Duke City isn't quite as worldly as some might think. "Albuquerque's still fairly provincial," Fenicle says. "People tend to forget that."
"It's not going to destroy the world if people enjoy looking at a drawing of a nude."
Hallmark hopes nude and erotic art can turn a profit and that people lighten up. "Simple nudity is too much for some," she says. "It's not going to destroy the world if people enjoy looking at a drawing of a nude."
But Hallmark acknowledges her art show is not for everyone. Eyegasm will include photography, paintings and drawings from more than a dozen artists. The show is free, but you'll have to prove you’re 18-or-over to get in. "Don't blame us if you get offended," Hallmark says. "It's not like we didn't warn you."
Hallmark says she wishes she didn't need to have an age restriction and could just leave it up to parents to decide what art was appropriate for their children. But Albuquerque's pornography laws are vague, Hallmark says, and she'd rather err on the side of caution. "I'm not trying to change any laws," she says. "I'm just trying to show art."
Hallmark has also tried to set up her show so that it moves from least to most offensive. As attendees walk in, they'll be greeted by simple nudes; with each room the artwork gets racier. "As you progress, it gets more graphic," Hallmark explains. "So if it gets to be too much, don't go around that last corner."