By Bruce Helander
The original Santa Fe Trail was a legendary route for trading goods, including arts and crafts, gold, silver and turquoise. The view from the trail, although beautiful, was limited by trees and hills that surrounded the traveler. However, one could get an entirely different perspective if you climbed to the peak of nearby mountains, where you could not only see what was coming, but one could get a remarkable perspective for miles and miles that was filled with intrigue, excitement and awe-inspiring beauty. The lesson learned is that perspective is everything. The exhibition, titled Artist Perspectives, at GP Modern in Santa Fe, follows a local tradition of examining viewpoints and the manipulation of various materials from different personal perspectives. In what was likely the biggest and most exciting opening of the year, a packed house consisting of local artists and collectors and an amazing group of prominent artists from Los Angeles and New York City descended upon Santa Fe to generate an unusual energy that is not often seen here. The legendary artist, Donald Sultan, was on hand to sign his latest book, which weighed about ten pounds and is as impressive as his grand-scale abstract deductions of flowers and fruit.
Curated by Peter Marcelle, this group exhibition gathers together a variety of perspectives from an artist's point of view, celebrating inventiveness combined with a recognizable individual style. A good cross section of local talent proudly shared the walls with art history book heroes like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Alexander Calder, Wayne Thiebaud and Damien Hirst. Among those artists' who live in the area were Christopher Benson, whose painting of a kitchen, Tiverton Interior, had a magical quality and may have taken a cue from the Diebenkorn that was hanging nearby. Raphaelle Goethals’ work, Dust Stories, might have been ‘kicked up’ from a local corral, but also made a remarkable background for the Robert Graham installation of marvelous, small-scale figures for which the late artist was famous. Darren Vigil Gray's hauntingly beautiful portrait, Ancient One, was a small gem, along with Karen Kitchel's masterful close up studies of flowing grass, which was a perspective that few people notice. Carol Mothner's photorealist portrait of a young girl, Attitude, Elizabeth, Age 16, was stunning, as was Michael Scott's I Want to Be a Cowgirl (don't we all), which added some classy humor with an image of a flying dog that would make Salvador Dali a bit jealous. Paul Pascarella's massive three-paneled work, Winter Solstice, tipped its hat to Pollock and Cleve Gray, and David Solomon’s organic forms on aluminum rounded out the great showing of these talented Santa Fe artists.
Celebrated sculptor, Deborah Butterfield, led the stable of artists with a magnificent sculpture of a resting horse created from recycled, yellow metal fragments. Nature is the inspiration for a number of paintings, which reflect the simple beauty and proportions of outdoor imagery such as Doris Downes’ Annabelle, a purple, flowering plant that seems to have sprouted from an alien seed pod. Dan Rizzie’s deco flavored composition of abstracted plant forms provides a handsome partner to Kryn Olson’s Generations, which becomes a combination of a two-dimensional Calder hanging shape as a base to support large colorful leaves. Christopher Armstrong's Carousel offers a meditative seascape with a vanishing line that honors the natural beauty of the sea. Two hyperrealist works by Marc Sijan, Security Guard and Brief Peek, are at once appreciated as triumphant illusions. Andy Warhol is represented with a classic portrait, an iconic soup can and through Andy Warhol’s Living Room, New York House 1987, an altered photographic interior of Warhol's uptown brownstone, including the pop artist posthumously seated in a chair, by David Gamble. Michele Francis offers a triptych, which feels like it was lifted from an urban scene that is both flat and spacious at the same time. Eric Ernst’s Look Into the Air spins with a circular motion, portraying a futuristic stained glass window into the future. Those Hours After Church, by Edward Holland, combines collage elements with paint, producing a charming yet simple composition that substitutes as a visual short story. Other artists represented in the exhibition include Carol Anthony, Erik Babcock, Gregory Botts, Michael Glier, Dennis Leri, Gwynn Murrill, Albert Paley, David Slater and David Solomon.
(Bruce Helander is an artist who writes on art. His recent book, Learning to See—An Artist’s View on Contemporary Artists From Artschwager to Zakanitch, was recently named an Indie Awards Finalist.)