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Art Center to showcase metal, jewelry and fabric

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By John Werenko

In his masterwork, “The Forge and the Crucible,” Mercea Eliade writes of the great chthonic force that is hidden deep within the bowels of the earth. That force is released with the mining of metals and minerals.The advance of civilization is linked to the power of metals. We speak of the bronze and iron ages, for example. The Art Center at Fuller Lodge (ACFL) demonstrates the power of metal with the show, “Creations in Metal and/or Jewelry.”Featuring 27 artists drawn from all over central and northern New Mexico, the exhibit includes artists who work in metal and/or jewelry, as well as artists represented at the Espaola Valley Fiber Arts Center.Sometimes curatorial skills are required to assemble an art exhibition or a museum collection. Most of the shows at the Art Center are ones that come about through a call for artists. Individual artists respond to this request and send images of their best work to be juried into the exhibition.Work is accepted or rejected based on the professional judgment of the juror, who presumably has expertise in the aesthetics of the genre, media, style or other aspects of the artwork presented.Another method is to invite one or more people to act as curators. This generally means that the artists for the exhibition are sought after by visitation to galleries or studios. Such is the case with “Creations in Metal and/or Jewelry.”The ACFL Executive Director, John D. Werenko, Vice Chairman of the Board Midge Tosten-Kilgour and staff liaison to the exhibition committee Doris Jackson contacted artists by visiting galleries and studios in Madrid, Santa Fe, Espaola and Los Alamos looking for artists working in metals.Because most of the work in “Creations” is on pedestals or in showcases, there was a noticeable lack of work to hang on the walls of gallery.It was decided by the curators that fiber works from well-known artists in New Mexico would offer a colorful foil to the free-standing, three dimensional art work in the open space. Diane Bowman, executive director of the Fiber Arts Center, acted as the curator for the fiber artwork.For example, Trish Spillman’s scarves are flowing and colorful and would wear well with much of the jewelry exhibited. The other fiber work includes Andrea Garcia’s traditional Rio Grande style geometric forms done in natural dyes. Pat Dozier also works in natural dyes and uses a geometry that is extremely bold. Dozier studied under the well-known Southwest artist Rachel Brown. Robin Reider works in a very different genre creating pictorial tapestries of Southwestern landscapes, with a touch of African influences based on her trips to that continent.Jewelry, especially in silver and turquoise, is ubiquitous to the Southwest United States. It is extremely difficult to surprise gallery visitors with something creative and different in this medium. The curators of “Creations in Metal and/or Jewelry” discovered some original work.Phillipa Lack leads the group with her transistor and computer memory board earrings and brooch. As Los Alamos is one of the leading scientific communities of the world it is only fitting that Lack present her use of electronic parts as jewelry in contrast to the colorful use of natural dyes found in the work of the fiber artists in the show.The Art Center will follow this exhibition with one titled “Art Expression in Technology Science.”Local jewelers Jen Moss and Sarah Kratzer present work made of silver and semiprecious stones such as lapis, topaz, amethyst and pearl.Omar Juveland’s multi colored bracelet and buckles are reminiscent of work done by Zuni masters, but with a post-modern twist.Rebecca Steritz seems to be also influenced, if slightly, by Namb design in her bracelet and necklace.Rebecca Estep departs somewhat from the other jewelers and works in beaded material accomplishing a flair that is reminiscent of the influence of Egyptian art during the roaring ’20s. Her necklaces look as though they could grace the neck of Cleopatra or Hatshepsut.Diana Dearen presents her work from the “Copper Edge,” as she calls her company. She uses finely twisted copper wire woven around stones and other objects.Other metal work in the exhibition takes advantage of the use of glass.Fran Stovall, Janice Muir, Chris Judson and Grace E. Woods all incorporate colored glass, mirrors or clear glass in their creations.Stovall’s “Old Tree and Moon” is done in analogous blues, while her “Red and Black Abstract” is a light-intensive Mondrian design, including use of minimal color and line, on the horizontal and the vertical. Stained glass is often used functionally and another artist, Bill Lloyd, also works in metal that becomes functional bells. He uses found scrap, including rusted metal, and hammers it into sounding instruments blown by the wind.The remaining artists in “Creations in Metal and/or Jewelry” all work in a sculptural medium such as bronze or found metal objects.Frank Morbillo, recognized Santa Fe sculptor, and long- time Foundry Manager of Shidoni, presents his bronze maquettes for sculptural chairs.Titles like “Victoria and Albert Arm Chairs” recall Henry Moore’s work, “King and Queen,” also in bronze.Bronze is one of the most chthonic of all metals, dating back some 6,000 years to China and the ancient Middle East.It takes great courage to work in the “lost wax method” of casting. It is an extremely labor- intensive process, requiring several molds, a furnace and great skill. Several of the artists in this exhibition have worked in this process extensively.In addition to Morbillo’s chairs, R. French Leger’s “Brookgirl,” Jan and Jo Moore’s “Corn Mother,” Bernard Franz’s “Bubo Owl” and Susan Little’s sculpture of a bear with berries represent the best that foundry craft in New Mexico has to offer.Gilbert Candelaria and Janet de Mello work primarily with found metal, by their own admission, turning mundane objects into art.Candelaria combines scrap metal with glass in a sculptural form while de Mello creates whimsical masks suggestive of Picasso’s famous assemblage, “Baboon.”Clare Villa’s traditional northern New Mexico retablo titled, “St. Francis,” rounds off the show. Villa has been represented in the Art Center Gallery Shop for many years; her work can also be viewed at the “Mision Convento” in the Espaola Plaza where she has been a leading developer.The following galleries deserve mention and appreciation for assisting the curatorial process by providing such excellent artists in the media of metal, jewelry and fibers: Chumani Gallery, Misenko Boldman Fine Arts, Range West Gallery, Weasel & Fitz all of Madrid, N.M. ; the Espaola Valley Fiber Arts Center and Deloney Newkirk of Santa Fe. Portal artist Sasha Scully of Santa Fe works in very bright colors, impasto in an a la prima style.She is exhibiting a variety of works including landscapes and animals. The Art Center at Fuller Lodge will hold the opening reception for the exhibit “Creations in Metal and/or Jewelry” from 5-7 p.m. Friday.