Cultural Bytes: Arts Across the La Bajada Divide - September 18, 2012

- September 19, 2012

“Arts across the La Bajada Divide…”

I have never understood how 50 miles and a difference in altitude of about 2,000 feet could matter so much in the artistic relationship between Santa Fe and Albuquerque.  Each of these two communities, rich in artistic endeavor, seems to ignore the other at the minimum and sometimes they even snipe at one another. 

Having the attitude that art has no boundaries, I am delighted when artists of all stripes make the trek up or down the hill to visit their fellow artists and the “other” community. Recently I posted about Fusion Theater Company mounting a season of four plays at the Lensic and at a wonderful party at Darby McQuade’s Jackalope last Saturday, Theater Grottesco announced it was planning a re-mount of its successful “Storm” at Rodey Theater at UNM during the winter months of early 2013.

Photographer Ward Russell in Albuquerque

One of the images from Ward Russell’s ” Rainbow” series has been chosen for the special group show , “Abstract New Mexico” at Matrix Fine Art in Albuquerque.  The show opens this Friday, Sept. 21 with an artist reception from 5 to 7 p.m. and runs through October 27.

This new series is a drastic departure from Russell’s usual black and white journalistic photography. In it, he explores the worlds of the abstraction and minimalism. Inspired by the art of Minimalist, Abstract Expressionist and Color Field painters, Russell reduces his photography to a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition existing with an independence from references in the world. In “Rainbow” Russell’s photographic images have been reduced to their basic, unrecognizable forms and colors.

And, on this side of the great La Bajada divide

"The Faces of Lannan: Celebrating 15 Years of Lannan Events in Santa Fe", a show by photographer Don Usner, opens at the Lannan Foundation’s gallery space on Reed Street on Saturday, September 29 with an artist reception and runs through November 11.

Celebrated native New Mexican photographer Don Usner has been making portraits of Lannan Foundation guest speakers since 1997 – photographing hundreds of unique characters and capturing on film the personalities of famous writers, poets, Nobel Laureates and social activists. From Toni Morrison to Gore Vidal, Lawrence Ferlinghetti to Amy Goodman and Susan Sontag to Robert Creeley and Cornel West, Usner’s subjects include many of the 20th Century’s most distinguished thinkers.

The gallery hours are unique in that it is open only on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., but I think the show is well worth talking time on your weekend.