Sunday, May 13, 2012

from the many, one.

Axle Contemporary is a sort of rolling gallery in a truck. The two directors, using that term loosely, because they'd probably laugh, are Matthew Chase-Daniel and Jerry Wellman. Their program, again using the term loosely, involves a few group shows in the summer, with one of them, usually Jerry, manning the gallery and chatting up the visitors, and installations in the winter that are visible through glass, thus the truck can sit unattended.

There are a few sites where the parked truck is welcome, like the Farmer's Market, and SITE Santa Fe, but if they want to park it downtown, for instance, they have some serious issues. I'm not sure if they feed the meter all day or what. But that's where the bulk of the walking traffic is, especially in the summer.

Their latest project is called E Pluribus Unum which involved taking a photograph of anyone who walked in, and each person would hold something that was dear to them. At the end, after the portraits were displayed all over the truck, the photographs were combined into one portrait, a meta-being if you will. It's pretty clearly female, and I can't reproduce it so you'll have to check it out here.

I thought it was a brilliant idea and I bought the book that they published of all the photos. Some of them are people I knew, my students, colleagues, and friends; but most of them I don't. As I flip through the book I reflect on how the people in it are specific to Santa Fe in a way- I mean they certainly don't look like folks back east. I regret not taking part, and I can't explain why I didn't except I don't love having my photo taken and displayed on a truck. The project speaks to the specificity of place and time and having the book gives me a little piece of that.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


My continuing journey into the tangles of Santa Fe community:
Saturday I went to a brunch sponsored by the New Mexico Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of the latest Alcove 12.0 exhibit. This is a new series curated by Merry Scully, of small shows of work by contemporary New Mexican artists. It's a breath of fresh air for the museum. My good friends
Jane Lackey and Linda Swanson were in the first group, so I was on the guest list. This was for the second group, which included Harmony Hammond and Terri Roland.

It was crowded at the brunch and I saw lots of people from afar but I ended up having a really interesting conversation with a writer, Kay Hagan. We talked about developing friendships in Santa Fe. She's from back east as well and she described the community here as "atomized." It seemed like a perfect word to describe the way people know each other but are sort of floating in the air in their own worlds. Not like New York, where everyone is on top of each other and you're forced to be involved. There's something nice, and comforting, about never being alone; but the freedom of roominess appeals as well. It's probably one of the things people move here for. And yet there are only something like 73,000 residents of Santa Fe. This makes it a small town, with small town occurrences.

Being atomized means you have to make a little more effort to catch the personalities. It also means true friendships take a while to develop. One woman told me not long ago, that if someone asks me how long I've been here, to say "two years." Not less than that. So many people come and go- this is probably why people don't automatically add you to their social circle. It actually has been about two years that I've lived here and I can honestly say it's starting to feel different.

Kay pointed out that this area is one of the only ones in America where you can be in the midst of settlements that are 900 years old, like the Taos pueblo. I had never thought of it quite like that. It's so steeped in history, in diverse cultures. And as much as we artists like to scoff at much of the work we see that's meant for the tourists, northern New Mexico has a very long history as an art colony, and serious work was made here.

Here's a painting by Marsden Hartley.