Any Season is a Good Time for Art in Santa Fe
January 14, 2010
Now that the “holidaze” are over, once again, there is time to come up for air. And an excellent way to re-center is to immerse the mind and soul in the contemplation of nature. What do you do, though, when it’s only a lunch hour, you have to go to the post office (I am a devotee of plain old-fashioned mail), and you just can’t spare the time to get out into a patch of green? You visit a gallery along the way, preferably one showing wonderful landscape work! One of the nice things about the Inn is the location, which makes it simple to stroll downtown or to Canyon Road, since either direction offers an ample number of galleries from which to pick your potion of peace. It’s a slow time of year in Santa Fe right now, the galleries are quiet, literally, and one can enjoy a relaxed encounter with both the work and the gallery personnel. I was out doing Plaza errands, so I wandered into EVOKE Contemporary and found just the green solace I was seeking. EVOKE is an excellent moniker for this gallery, as the work on exhibit provides an evocative picture of the natural world at a season when everything outdoors is still cold and dormant.
I certainly slowed down upon seeing the work of Francis Di Fronzo, whose artistry not only reveals the subtle and active beauty of blowing grasses and serene vistas, but who also crafts his own brushes with which to do so. This work is hushed and gently pulls you right in. We have few wide grassy swaths close by, and one could simply take a deep breath and remember being a child when the world seemed so very large. The recipient of a Pew fellowship, this painter appears to find a peace in his studio that he is able to share with his viewers. Let’s hope that he does find peace, since the life of a fine artist has historically been a tenuous one, and especially so in this economy.
A different view of nature’s greenery is offered by West Virginia painter, Lynn Boggess. Any midwestern ex-pat would recognize these chattering woods, with leaves shifting from side to side, refracting light and creating all sorts of shadowy patterns. This site-specific painter has an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy, a gold standard among art institutes, and his work exhibits a lively composition, with its rich and varied brush-work. It looks exciting to work outdoors this way, as his on location photos demonstrate! Well, on second thought, maybe working outside in the winter isn’t THAT much fun! BRRR! I’ll think that one over again before I jump right in!
The superbly crafted glass sculptures of Randy Walker beg to be stroked (I was good, I obeyed the signs and did not touch). His thorny branches look sharp enough to sting, and I can imagine his glowing leaves in a window pulling in ruby red and golden light on a grey and gloomy day. I tried glass-blowing long ago, and boy, was it hot, hard and heavy to keep that liquid glass moving. Add in the multitude of colors and embedded textures, I’m impressed!
Louisa McElwain, recognized as a doyenne of landscape painting in New Mexico, is well represented in this very pleasant gallery space. Her expansive, colorful, lively panoramas, executed with a palette brush, bring the skies and mountains of the Southwest to life in a bold manner. It was hardly surprising to learn that she had studied at Skowhegan in Maine; so many good landscape painters have spent time there. Her excitement at being outdoors is quite palpable. Although their work is very different, I am reminded of the unique methodology of Emily Carr, an early twentieth-century artist from the Northwest, who trucked out into the landscape with her very own art wagon, an artistic endeavor that looked arduous but also adventurous. I have heard that Louisa does the same, apocryphal? Note to museums, how about an Emily Carr show?
If you need a break from the routine, take time to visit one of Santa Fe’s many galleries. It’s a lovely way to slow down, however briefly, and enjoy one of the special things about this special town. And of course, to see more than just a thumbnail of these artists’ works, simply head for EVOKE Contemporary at 130 Lincoln Avenue; Elan and Kathrine will be there to welcome you.