Sunday, September 24, 2023

New art in town.

Well, not new new. But it has a new home. The Vladem Contemporary Art Museum  -- more precisely, the New Mexico Museum of Art Vladem Contemporary -- opened this weekend. The original facility is right off the historic plaza downtown, and while it often shows contemporary works, it turns out they have a lot more in storage that they haven't had room to put on display. So several years ago, the state agency that runs the museum bought an old warehouse in the Railyard and converted it to this new facility -- thereby annoying local folks who objected to the destruction of a mural that celebrated Santa Fe's multiple cultures. The mural has been recreated inside the museum, but some locals are still ticked that you have to go inside to see a scaled-down work of art that you used to be able to see from the street.

Anyway, I stopped by the members' preview open house on Friday.

The inaugural exhibition is called "Shadow and Light". I'm not a huge fan of contemporary art, and frankly some of the work I saw in the downstairs exhibit space was terrifying (take a look at these pants made of straight pins!). Although maybe I was just hungry. After a stop at the hors d'oeuvres tables, I found some stuff upstairs that I liked better.

This, for instance. It's called Cu:C and it's by Susan York. It was actually commissioned by the museum for this corner. It's made of two squares, one graphite and one copper, and the description on the wall encourages the viewer "to ponder whether they interrupt space or are integral to the building." 

Lynne Cantwell 2023
To be honest, it was fairly crowded in the gallery, and I kind of wondered whether I could fit inside the squares and take a break from the crowd. Probably would have gotten thrown out of the museum, though.

This one, by Emil Bisttram, is called The Archetype. Bisttram was a theosophist, according to the info on the wall next to this work. I loved the colors and the way the artist worked in the mystical symbols. 

Lynne Cantwell 2023
My absolute favorite piece in the show, though, is this one, by Yuyoi Kusama. It's stainless steel and urethane and it's called, appropriately enough, Pumpkin
Lynne Cantwell 2023
The card on the wall says, "Kusama's polka dots, while playful and humorous, force viewers to negotiate between the real and the surreal as they experience the work." This is how contemporary art goes off the rails for me. It's a polka-dotted pumpkin, for crying out loud. Can't I just enjoy a bit of whimsy?

I mean, if reality is what you're after, the rooftop terrace offers a great view of downtown Santa Fe. 

Lynne Cantwell 2023
The Vladem is in the Railyard, right next to the Rail Runner station (the commuter train that runs between Santa Fe and points slightly south of Albuquerque). If you're coming to Santa Fe anyway, or if you're a fan of contemporary art, it's worth checking out.


These moments of artistic blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. (I mean, it's a pumpkin. Lighten up!)

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