Rising from the mural-rich streets of Barelas or the soft slopes of The Heights, materializing through the doorway of a shotgun shack in Old Town or a studio apartment near campus, the work of Albuquerque's artists have always come on the scene with power and left a lasting impression. One of the most important vehicles for allowing those artists to come up in the local arts scene has long been SURFACE: Emerging Artists of New Mexico, The Harwood Art Center's showcase of promising local artists, now in its fifth year. Opening on Friday, June 2, from 6-8pm, this year's exhibition promises to yield more ambitious works from some of the city's brightest. Looking to the event, Chief Programs Officer of The Harwood, Julia Mandeville, took the time to answer some questions about this year's SURFACE.
Alibi: What is this show's history?
Mandeville: This year marks the 5th anniversary of SURFACE; we have served 66 exceptionally talented, committed artists in that time, including the 12 we accepted for 2017. Shortly after I joined the staff here, in 2012, GuruAmrit Khalsa and I designed SURFACE as a juried exhibition, professional development and awards program—with an eye towards achieving the greatest possible impact for the artists selected to participate.
What is the aim of the show?
The exhibition, opening reception and awards are beautiful celebrations of the artists. But the heart of SURFACE—and what sets it apart in the landscape of local opportunities—is the professional development element. Our participants attend an intensive full-day workshop that focuses on what it means to be and how to further oneself as a working artist; 10 remarkable panelists, including curators, gallerists, journalists, public relations specialists and artists, share their expertise and recommend strategies around the business of art. For this reason, we've heard from many program alumni that SURFACE was the single most important accelerator of their careers. This has become our aim and aspiration across the board, though we are thrilled to contribute to an artist's blooming in any capacity.
What do you hope it will do for artists showcased?
SURFACE shines light on the vision, skill and dedication of New Mexico's emerging artists and offers them best practices and tools for making strides in their creative professions. We are particularly interested in helping them identify approaches—through both traditional and nontraditional channels—to share their work and the stories behind it, build their audiences and cultivate collector bases, and ultimately sustain viable, full-time artistic practices.
What do you hope it will illustrate for attendees?
How absolutely extraordinary and brilliant New Mexico's emerging artists are. Our applicant pool this year was incredible, but the 12 artists who rose to the surface (see what happened there?) are particularly noteworthy for their creative excellence, originality of vision and devotion to practice. We are so excited to highlight these very deserving artists and to invite our broader community to become (further) acquainted with them.
Anything or anyone you are particularly excited about this year?
Yes, we are thrilled at the breadth of media and approach reflected across our artists. This year's exhibition includes painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, jewelry, fashion and design; it is the most diverse body of work we've had in SURFACE to date. Additionally, the opening reception always makes us giddy, but this year—in addition to the exhibitions—we'll have the music of Julian Wild, Harwood's community art making projects, Missing Persons by Jodie Herrera and Collin Troy and Butterflies by Staci Drangmeister, the site-specific commission La Joya 2017 by Reyes Padilla and Natalie Voelker, the site-specific works Abacus and Relegation by Lance Ryan McGoldrick, and food trucks so people can hang out with us for dinner. Our staff works in service to Harwood's mission and lives in service to the community we love, particularly the creative community ... and SURFACE is one of our very favorite events and programs of the year. We are excited about everything!