Arts Interview Sidebar: Lost And Found In The Desert Triangle

Maggie Grimason
3 min read
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Across the table, Karl Whitaker opened his tablet and hovered it over the catalog of prints from Desert Triangle, a traveling exhibit he curated that showcases 30 printmakers spread across these desert lands—specifically Albuquerque, Tucson and El Paso. I tapped the screen, and the image came to life. The red flowers in the woman’s dark hair, previously static on the page, now lifted and floated in the air on the screen, as if caught in a breeze. The woman in the print blinked serenely. The effect is called “augmented reality” and it is just one of the many things that engages and surprises in Desert Triangle—and before you head to the show at New Grounds Print Workshop & Gallery you can download the app to see the works in motion at Whitaker and my too edited and too brief conversation about the desert and much more follows.

Alibi: How did the concept for the show come about?

Whitaker: I’ve been bouncing around the Southwest between these cities—Tucson, Albuquerque, El Paso, Juarez—and I get to know who the artists are. I thought it would be nice to integrate and showcase these places. Sometimes things are a little bit thin out here. We don’t have the stimulus or the resources of a big city. I asked the artists that I knew, and that’s how it became geographical.

What do you think is special about the desert for you, or as you see it for artists?

What’s interesting is [that] we didn’t do a lot of landscapes. There’s a sense of the desert, though—expansive spaces and color. There are cultural distinctions present [in] the iconography. I asked people to do things that were personal, [those personal images] reflect the place.

Where has this show been previously and where is it going?

It was in the El Paso Museum earlier this year. We also exhibited for a month at a gallery in Tucson. There were pop-ups in Mexico City and Oaxaca, and now we set up in Albuquerque. We’re going to take it to Chicago, to an old morgue that has become a print shop.

What do you hope or expect the experience of viewing this show will be like for a visitor?

They’re all done in the same format, so there’s some unity, but I like the variety. Some people don’t think it’s coherent, but I think its a very contemporary thing to have lots of variety. And there’s lots of personalities here. They’re colorful. I would expect people to respond to that. There really is something there for everybody.

There is little justice that words can provide for the vibrant, thoughtful works of this exhibition. Get irrevocably lost in the
Desert Triangle on Fridays and Saturdays through the month of July at New Grounds Print Workshop & Gallery (3812 Central SE 100B).
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