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By Sarah Hutt

Stepping off the shuttle bus in downtown Santa Fe I experience a familiar physical sense of calm. The therapeutic quality of the light, the clear dry air, and the unbroken vista of sky and majestic mountains are truly breathtaking. I have arrived on this unseasonably cool July morning to participate in ART Santa Fe. It is located in the new Santa Fe Railyard Art District. SITE Santa Fe is located just across the street.

Santa Fe's art scene continues to enjoy support from both the community and City. ART Santa Fe's goal was to create a boutique fair that focused on an international cross section of contemporary art for collectors. This seemed to have been successful by the high volume of collectors and curators that attended the show. The collegial balance between national and international presenters was reflected in the very relaxed atmosphere that many locals referred to as Santa Fe time. ART Santa Fe brought together 59 participants: 16 were from Santa Fe area, 8 from NYC, the rest of the US, Europe, South America and Asia. Seven Project Spaces were set up to showcasing local museums and non-profit galleries. I was in the project space affiliated with the Santa Fe Center of Contemporary Art in a show titled Furies, curated by art critic Hollis Walker.

This was my second art fair experience; I chose to come here because of the smaller size of the fair and my ties to Santa Fe. I have been exhibiting here for the past 3 years but as a group the other seven artists all had high visibility in the community, which generated a lot of interest and press coverage. One of the volunteer greeters, Jim Guatier, a local photographer, enjoyed our display so much he directed visitors to start at our end of the center so it provided a steady stream of collectors, curators, and press, fresh and enthusiastic and not yet overloaded by the abundance of artwork to be seen.

Being at the fair required one to stand on your feet throughout the day to answer questions and handle sales. It was a little like open studio minus lulls in traffic and better wine. Most of the artists that chose to attend with their work were from Asia and Europe. About half the art was uninspiring though some very interesting work. The Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery, London was filled with objects like Maria Morrow's Hovis Presley the portrait of Elvis Presley scorched onto toast, Ross Bonfanti's cast concrete animals that reminded me of the stuffed bunnies and bears I had as a child, John Dilnot's Joseph Cornell style boxes using labels that depicted fish and fowl, and while they had some beautiful paper towel dresses, after walking through the entire exhibit there were just too many empty dresses to count and they began to loose their punch. The Frostig Collection showed a limited edition portfolio that consisted of beautifully detailed bronze castings of birds that appeared to be sleeping but in fact were dead. At Gallery Sumukha, from Bangalore India I met Ravikumar Kashi . He exhibited over 60 open books cast in cotton rag pulp. His gallery had difficulty shipping artwork into the States so in the end only the work he had been able to carry was on display. His work was very light and portable - a necessity when shipping around the world.

Across the street was SITE Santa Fe, which is open year round. For this season 18 projects were created, 8 at SITE Santa Fe an d 10 scattered around the city. Curator Lance Fung's theme was for artists to create works that ether disintegrated overtime either metaphorical or in real time, or were made out of recycled materials. The actual on-site exhibition space was itself one of the projects, designed by Williams and Tsien Architectural. Using industrial materials and leaving spaces raw they created three distinct viewing areas around and through threaded a ramped spiral walkway that created different viewpoints of each room as you walked up, and smaller display areas as you passed along the ramp. At the end was the installation by Italian artist Piero Golia called, Manifest Destiny. It was situated at the end of the Williams and Tsien walkway ramp. The piece took the form of a 16-foot jump off the ramps end onto a 12 x 12' red foam stunt mattress. While I was there the young interns would take turns running up to jump off, it seemed they were looking for group participation, but parents seemed reluctant to let young children jump and older viewers laughed and walked away.

My favorite piece was by Studio Azzuro, a quartet of artists from Italy. The 4th Ladder was an interactive video environment. People were selected that had an "indigenous" look representing the Pueblo Indians. Their images were projected on the wall along the ram. If you touched the wall it caused figures to stop, turn towards you, walk in place, or speed up their gait. Its simplicity was fascinating.

I enjoyed meeting many transplanted Bostonians, many with Museum School ties and the opportunity to periodically wear my old Director of Public Art hat to meet with public officials. The Railyard Art District is a city-sponsored development that links galleries and live-in art studios, with restaurants, a Farmer's Market, and open space. A planned railroad station will shuttle the 60 miles between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. It was inspiring to see this kind of support that chose to let the art community organically develop. They're enthusiastic support for the arts and the opportunities it could bring to the area were really quite refreshing.

ART Santa Fe
SITE Santa Fe

All images are courtesy of the ART Santa Fe website.


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