NAP Contributor Top 5: Claude Smith
Previously we shared our Associate Publisher's top picks for 2014. Next up, Claude Smith, one of our favorite NAP/Blog contributors, shares his shows of 2015...2014 had numerous memorable moments–both locally and elsewhere, but for me, there were a few that stood out as exceptional. These are my top 5–in no particular order. – Claude Smith, Albuquerque/Santa Fe Contributor
From "Pattern: Follow the Rules" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver. Jason Middlebrook | Another Vein, 2012. Courtesy the artist and DODGEgallery, New York, Photo: Karen Pearson. © Jason Middlebrook
Raychael Stine at Pacific Exhibits
Take the unassuming window space dubbed Pacific Exhibits (a satellite venue for her Central Features gallery) that curator and gallerist Nancy Zastudil inaugurated in early 2014 as a way of weaving the experience of viewing art into the fabric of the everyday experience. It has no hours, no gallery staff and no opening receptions. It does offer however, a guaranteed, casual 24-7 potential to view art; whether you’re stumbling home from one of the many bars in Downtown Albuquerque, running errands or out visiting one of the several brick and mortar galleries in the vicinity, you can always expect to see something quality. It was Zastudil’s very modest showcase of hella-talented UNM painting professor Raychael Stine (NAP #78) that had me repeatedly looking for excuses to take more than a few detours while in the area to see her work. Stine’s multi-faceted approach to painting often incorporates messy, colorful abstraction, trompe l’oeil, realism and photography. With numerous conceptual layers to add to the intrigue, her work is a perfect example of what a painting show can strive to be–virtuosic, accessible and loads of fun.
Karl Hofmann: A Second Life at Harwood Art Center
Karl Hofmann | A Second Life, 2014, wood, concrete, clamps, shop lights, dimensions variable, 11′ x 9′ x 10′; image courtesy the artist
Karl Hofmann’s is one of those Albuquerque-based artists you don’t see nearly enough of. In his room-filling installation, A Second Life at the Harwood Art Center, Hofmann delivered a smart spectacle of an installation that found him creatively repurposing what he referred to as “low” materials. Comprised of hundreds of scraps of wood, concrete, lights, clamps and buckets he managed to create something that was both sophisticated and playful yet wholly engaging.
Bethany Johnson: Field Notes at Moody Gallery
Bethany Johnson | Heavens have you made the rover happy I, 2013, ink on paper, 24" x 18"; image courtesy of the artist and Moody Gallery, Houston, Texas
Bethany Johnson’s (NAP #108) recent solo outing at Moody Gallery was one of those rare exhibitions that begs for multiple viewings. Her impossibly precise line drawings of re-interpreted source material–think data and imagery culled from NASA and the Hubble Telescope–was so flawless that it looked mechanically generated. Field Notes was a highly personal and intimate look into Johnson’s image making process, but also showcased her ability to translate mundane imagery into magnetically charged, poetic moments.
David Maisel: Black Maps at the University of New Mexico Art Museum
David Maisel’s hauntingly beautiful large-scale photographs offer a terrifying glimpse into the landscape of the American West as a byproduct of human consumption. Utilizing aerial photographs, Maisel documented industrial sites, open pit mines, waste treatment facilities and the vast horizon of the Los Angeles skyline as it dissolves into oblivion. And it’s precisely his use of aerial photography that allows him perspective to depict an otherwise invisible or unimaginable reality: a post-apocalyptic wasteland of extreme environmental transformation as a result of overzealous, unregulated industry and rampant globalization. Despite the bleak outlook, Maisel’s colorfully rich, exceedingly painterly compositions were ever so easy on the eyes and disarmingly hypnotic.
Pattern: Follow the Rules at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver
The MCA is such a great institution, and it seems like their schedule and programs are only getting better. Pattern was an examination of the myriad ways in which artists use repetition in their work to address the relationship between vision and perception. Stacked with first-rate artists–Mark Grotjahn, Walead Beshty, Hugh Scott-Douglas and Christopher Wool, to name a few–many of the works in the exhibition were presented in ways that foregrounded artistic production and aesthetics. This relatively modest sized museum show was exceedingly fun to look at and offered some outstanding examples of the exhibition’s thesis: Žilvinas Kempinas’ hypnotic fractal weavings required close examination as did Jason Middlebrook’s exquisitely painted wood planks. Pattern had all of its bases covered.
Claude Smith is an arts administrator and educator.