Alibi Picks

To View a Life's Wreckage: Morang and Friends Opening Reception

The violin, which he began studying as a talented child in Maine, was his first foray into the artistic milieu. Later he published short stories in major magazines. But when tuberculosis brought Alfred Morang to Santa Fe in the late 1930s, he became a painter, embarking on the phase of his polymath life for which he is best loved. His work reflects a distinctive City Different of the 1940s and ‘50s—the color-drenched vistas of northern New Mexico, scenes of nightlife, plazas and adobes. His pen-and-ink compositions shiver with energy, even when depicting something so mundane as his own studio, but his canvases positively bristle with morasses of color and line. Layered with thick wads of oil paint, they’re sometimes abstract, reminiscent of Kandinsky, and other times figurative—underlining that neither Morang’s biography nor his output can be enclosed by simple descriptors.

"The Artist's Studio," pen and ink
"The Artist's Studio," pen and ink

His life, which could have continued in so many directions, was cut short when his studio caught fire in the middle of the night on Jan. 29, 1958. A new exhibit at Matthews Gallery (669 Canyon Rd., Santa Fe), which sits just across from the former studio, reassembles the long-scattered artifacts of Morang’s artistic existence and places them in context. Morang and Friends opens Friday, Dec. 12, from 5 to 7pm, and continues until Dec. 26. Included among the papers, sketches, paintings and artwork of his contemporaries are Morang’s own violin, blackened by the fire. Matthews Gallery, Santa Fe • Fri Dec 12 • 5-7pm • Free • ALL-AGES! • View on Alibi calendar

"Dancers at Midnight," detail, oil on canvas
"Dancers at Midnight," detail, oil on canvas