ONWARD AND UPWARD
Harwood Museum features 45 artists in virtual art exhibitions
ALTHOUGH BOTH OF THE HARWOOD MUSEUM’S summer exhibitions were in the works many months ago, there is something fitting that during a time when we are, for health reasons, staying close to home, the Harwood Museum’s newest exhibitions feature artists from our region. In total, works by 45 New Mexican artists are on display, most from right here in Taos.
Juniper Manley, executive director of the Harwood Museum of Art, feels that supporting area artists is core to the mission of the museum and a major aspect of the local economy. “Because access has been limited, we are for the first time adding a digital exhibition platform including interviews and expanded content about the artists.”
Las Santeras includes the work of 21 female devotional artists from New Mexico and Colorado which is the first major exhibition of its kind. “We are very excited to offer the most significant exhibition of female santos carvers ever curated and exhibited in this way,” said Nicole Dial-Kay, curator of exhibitions and collections at the Harwood Museum.
Gustavo Victor Goler is the guest curator for Las Santeras. A New Mexican contemporary santero and art conservator who restores works of devotional art, Goler is well-versed in the cultural arts of the region. “I thought it would be interesting to have an in-depth study on the Santeras, their journeys and histories,”
The carving of saints by santeros began with the early Spanish settlers who needed them in the practice of their religion. Early in the 20th century, several women from Córdova, a small mountain town on the High-Road to Taos, began to take up the tradition of their elder family members, becoming “santeras,” the female counterpart to “santeros.” The practice soon spread beyond Córdova throughout the region. The devotional arts of New Mexico have been elevated to a status of international respect and recognition, in no small part, due to the work of these talented artists.
Contemporary art / Taos 2020
The Harwood Museum invited living Taos artists to submit work for consideration for its Contemporary Art / Taos 2020 exhibition, giving local artists the opportunity to have art curators from outside New Mexico review their work. This rigorous juried process resulted in the selection of 24 Taos artists from 313 applicants. The jury panel consisted of Harwood’s Curator of Exhibitions and Collections Nicole Dial-Kay; Chief Curator Emeritus at the Albright-Knox Douglas Dreishpoon, who is also director of the Catalogue Raisonné project at the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation in New York City; and Associate Curator Dakota Hoska, of Native Arts at the Denver Art Museum.
The jurors selected 31 artists for virtual studio tours, as well as 24 finalists for the exhibition. The Harwood is also collaborating with local galleries to show work by some of the tremendous artists who cannot be included in the exhibition.
“In choosing artists for the exhibition, we balanced equity of representation to reflect the many perspectives of the Taos community,” said Dial-Kay. “The resulting group of artists is an astonishing spread of talent diversely manifest in oil painting, site-specific installations, light sculptures, photography, murals, ceramics and more.”
Dreishpoon, who has a long history with the Taos arts community, said, “There seems to be a willingness on the part of many Taos artists to experiment, to do things that may or may not succeed, but which propel them forward in positive ways. The tendency to stretch out, even if it means failing, may be Taos’ artistic legacy as a frontier town where one could afford to press the envelope of their creativity. Taos, to my mind and eyes, remains one of the most vital regional art communities in the U.S.”
The Harwood has added a digital platform to showcase the artists in both new exhibitions, creating a micro-website (harwoodart.org) that provides a glimpse into the work and lives of each of these artists. Every artist has a web page featuring a biography, virtual studio tours, interviews and more. Content will be continuously added.
Museum Director Manley points out that, “The Harwood’s latest exhibitions demonstrate that Taos is as creative as ever. At this time especially, we can observe and celebrate this creativity so central to our community and to our resilience. I hope everyone, near and far, will find delight and inspiration in the work of our artists.”
The Harwood Museum of Art anticipates reopening its doors July 9, and has already begun to roll-out a full schedule of digital offerings.
For more go to harwoodmuseum.org or call (575) 758-9826.