I suppose, I can no longer deny my preoccupation with beams and adobe wall.
To relieve your boredom, I’ll continue this chapter on the Art Museum with the work of Diego Romero, who brings funky twists to traditional pots. Look closely!
In addition to contemporary interpretations of traditional crafts, the current exhibit It’s About Time presents a condensed, yet detailed cross section through a few millennia of creativity – and destruction. From prehistoric pottery to the Manhattan Project, New Mexico has seen much.
|On my husband’s first birthday, July 16, 1945, the first ever nuclear device was detonated at the Trinity site near Alamogordo. Photo taken by Berlyn B. Brixner at a distance of 5 miles
|Death always rides with you
Chima Altar, detail
While still on the subject of death, we smile at this quintessentially New Mexico interpretation of … death is never far behind. The artist, Luis Tapia, was a traditional santero carver, before he developed his exquisit sense of humor
|Chima Altar by Luis Tapia
And even this traditional and benign appearing oil painting of a Taos Pueblo man, painted by Gerald Cassidy in 1911, has a hidden, darker meaning.
Cassidy titled his painting ‘Cui Bono?’ – who benefits? in reference to the ever increasing tourist industry in the Southwest and the strong feelings of entitlement by White Americans to expend their holdings across the continent at the cost of disenfranchised native peoples. Part of this mission was expressed in the philosophy of Manifest Destiny, proclaiming that White Americans had the moral obligation to “civilize” Native Americans. And boy, did they ever try!
After browsing through 14000 years of art downstairs, I encountered the work of a remarkable contemporary artist named Derrick Velasquez, whose pieces are exhibited, with other contemporary art, upstairs in large, old and dark Spanish style chambers with carved corbels and inlaid wood ornamentation. An edgy, almost jarring juxtaposition.
|Derrick Velasquez, untitled 46
vinyl & cherry, 2012
Velasquez’ work was quite captivating – except, those buckets kept intruding. More buckets, buckets everywhere … what’s going on? The more I looked at the buckets, the more they appeared like an installation to me. Believe me, I’ve seen crazier exhibits! I was the only visitor upstairs at the time, so it was eerily quiet, only occasionally a creaking beam would complain of old age. Therefore I noticed very soon that the buckets were catching droplets of, presumably, water. Drip, drip … drip. Aha, buckets as musical instruments, of course. Then again, which museum curator would willingly install a source of fluid near their precious print art? Exactly. Meanwhile my fascination with red buckets forced me to crouch on the floor and spill over benches, in order to get better bucket shots, which in turn aroused the suspicion of the guard. He hovered ever closer, peeking around door frames, to ensure the continued safety of his inventory.
Finally I asked him, if the buckets were catching condensation from an A/C system, but he thought it was humidity dripping from the ceiling. Considering Santa FE’s extremely low humidity, this was one of those ‘Really? How?’ moments. At the last second, I remembered that this helpful person was a security guard, not a refrigeration engineer and I didn’t pursue the issue.
Another issue is the poor light quality of my indoor pictures. Even though the museum allows photography, no flash may be used. Since the individual works of art are illuminated by directional spots, the actual space was quiet gloomy, especially those gorgeous rooms upstairs. My apologies.
Lastly, my tongue-in-cheek take on O’Keefe’s House through Window – then we can finally move on to the next museum.
Well, I lied. I’ve one more picture for you. A picture of a sweet and remarkable tiny installation in a window well in the central court yard, which I’d like to show you. It is a Dwelling for Imaginary Civilizations of Little People by artist Charles Simonds. This clay landscape on the window sill is intended to deteriorate in the natural elements with “purposeful neglect”, thus mimicking the disappearance of cultures into the mist of time. If you’ve ever hiked into a canyon to see a cliff dwelling, for example Bitát’ahkin or Kits’iil near Kayenta, AZ, you feel right at home in this miniature version.
At last a different museum!
Allow me to I introduce to you the beautiful Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. This facility is a marvel of discovery, but won’t allow cameras (do I hear a sigh of relieve?). When you check out the website, please watch the video introduction. It provides a glimpse of the impression, I felt very strongly during my visit. This is not a museum displaying artifacts, which are present also, of course, but a window into vibrant Native Culture, living and breathing by our side. The exhibit Here, Now & Always offers further inside and you see the touch, care and input Native people, professionals and lay persons alike, have had throughout the exhibit.
I’ll leave you with the words of Luck Tapahonso, Diné (Navajo)
The beginning was mist.
The first Holy Ones talked and sang
They created light, night, and day.
They sang into place the mountains,
plants, and animals.
They sang us into life.