Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Not So New Gallery In Town

Gerald Peters is a very well-known gallery owner in the field of American art.  If you want to buy Western Art that is where you go.  He has galleries today in Santa Fe and New York.  Four years ago, he split his gallery in Santa Fe into two parts.  One is still called the Gerald Peters Gallery but the other is Peters’ Projects where he was looking to expand his audience by showing edgier work and also with an emphasis on contemporary Native American artists. The space is huge. According to the gallery director Mark del Vecchio, it is one of the largest in North America at 8,500 square feet and he wants to use every bit of it.  So, Mark recently opened five  exhibitions at once, a most unusual decision, spreading the love, so to speak!

The exhibition in the main gallery is called “Quadrivium” with four artists, all Native American.  The title comes from “a medieval university curriculum involving the “mathematical arts of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music”, all relating to what artists need to understand.  The best known artist in the show is the Navajo painter, Tony Abeyta; from Santa Fe’s Institute of American Indian Arts he went on to do his  MFA at New York University. He now has studios in Santa Fe and Berkley. His image of “Unexpected Rains” 2018 caught my attention because we have had so little rain this year, with a reservoir only 25% full, that I hoped the Indian magic to bring rain would work once more.

In the same show is a Cochiti artist I have written about before, Mateo Romero, whose work we have collected in some depth. The largest of his paintings is a departure from his previous work, or, as he put it to me “ a bird of a different color”. It is a painterly rendering of a close-up of a large teepee, unusual in the Southwest as  teepees are used by the plains Indians and not seen here. Mateo based his composition on a photograph he took when he visited Standing Rock during the Sioux  protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. He wrote there were “a long series of pitched teepees where the Lakota /Dakota/Nakota brought together their sacred pipe bundles (seven I think) for ceremony.  The last time this happened was at the Battle of the Greasy Grass/Little Big Horn.”

In another gallery is what I believe is the most space Peters Projects has devoted to a single artist, Cara Romero.  She happens to be the wife of the well-known ceramicist Diego Romero and sister-in-law of Mateo.  Her medium is photography and, in my opinion, she  has an incredible eye.  We already own two of the images in the show, albeit in far smaller size.  I have learned from my old world of Old Master paintings, often the test is whether an artist’s work will stand up is if she/he can work in large format as well as small.  Cara certainly manages that.  Here are “Last Indian Market,” 2015 and “TV Indians,” 2017.

I was wandering further through the galleries when, in the back of one room, I saw with a start a woman alone, crouching, working on a piece of figural sculpture.  I almost spoke to her before I realized she too was a sculpture!  Duane Hanson (1925-1996) was probably the artist who brought hyper realism to sculpture but in this case, Carole Feuerman did a mighty good job at fooling my eye!  The figure seems super intense on her work possibly because it is a 3-dimensional self-portrait. “Is it real or is it Memorex?”

Clearly Peters Projects is a gallery that we need to pay more attention to in the future.

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