Sunday, August 19, 2018

Coe Center for the Arts - IMPRINT

This collaborative effort is an exhibition called “Imprint”.  It opened at the Ralph T. Coe Center for the arts last week and was organized by guest curator Nina Sanders (Crow Tribe) and Bess Murphy, curator at the Coe Center.

Before I go further let me explain that the Coe was called The Ralph T. Coe Foundation so if you do a search among my missives don’t be confused they are the same organization. I have written about the Coe often and if you want to have a lot of background just put the word Coe in the box, upper left, and scroll down through the Missives.

Six selected artists were asked to work together to create this show. They came up with the title representing the obvious meaning of artists prints and its literal definition, “To Imprint is to forge a connection that leaves a lasting mark”. To quote one of the artists. Eliza Naranjo Morse, (Santa Clara Pueblo), “Once in a while we experience something so deep and profound we are left with  an imprint that transforms our way of seeing and understanding forever.  Experiences like these are essential to growth and the culmination of wisdom …”

The other participating artists are Jamison Chas Banks (Seneca-Cayuga-Cherokee) Jason Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo), Terran Last Gun (Piikani (Blackfeet), Dakota Mace (DinĂ© (Navajo)), and Jacob Meders (Mechoopda – Maidu). As you can see, it is  a very diverse group with only Terran Last Gun describing himself specifically as a pintmaker while the rest say multi-disciplinary. 

There is the exhibition that one can see at the Coe in Santa Fe but you might enjoy it elsewhere as well. Through August 26 an auxiliary show with Axle Contemporary, a van that travels around Santa Fe and environs has prints you can buy by these artists.  The show will also appear in Durango, Las Vegas, Nevada and other places in the form of newspaper boxes containing prints and ephemera created by one of these six  artists, such as a CD by Jason Garcia.  If you discover one you can take what you find, but do leave something for the next lucky person who stumbles on one of these newspaper boxes.


What was important to the artists was to engage with each other, the broader public and institutions across Santa Fe to create a dialog and show how one can communicate through art.  Aside from Axle they are also working with the Center for Contemporary Art (CCA) and the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) and the Form and Concept Gallery . The artists are working in silkscreen, letterpress and handmade paper, cardboard boxes, shopping bags and other media to tell stories via visual media.


We have always been amazed by all the thought that Native American Artists put into their work. The stories their images tell are far more intricate than you might at first imagine, involving heritage and family.  As a generalization I have found that Native Americans explain their art in a much clearer fashion than Anglo artists usually do.

The  Imprint project is not static.  Other prints might be added, new places for newspaper boxes might pop up.  You will have to watch Face Book and the Ralph T. Coe Center website to keep track of what will happen next.

Now for a few of my favorite works:
One of them is by Eliza Naranjo Morse, a member of an unbelievably talented artistic family, the Naranjos of Santa Clara Pueblo.  Her watercolor, pen and acrylic piece, called “With a Gun” follows a theme she has been following for some years but this is the most elaborate and the only one that could come out of an updated Grimm fairy tale.


I find the three shopping bags by Terran Last Gun very effective.  They are serigraphs done in a edition of 10, called “Above Beings & US”.  Last Gun  sees his geometric designs as telling a story of the artist’s path between here and home.  His bags he imagines either being mounted or carrying books or clothing etc. He writes that they “present a powerful conundrum for us to consider; if a throwaway material or commercial process is used in the making of ‘fine’ art what exactly is the end result”.


I have been following Jason  Garcia, also known by his Indian name Okuupin, for quite a while, particularly his ceramic tiles in his comic book series of “Tewa Tales of Suspense”.  Here is one of his tiles from that series called “Warrior Maiden Muse” being hand processed clay.


There is so much more to see but I will end with the mural outside the Coe.  The images are by Terran Last Gun, Eliza Naranjo Morse and Jason Garcia.  They are painted on paper and adhered to the wall by flour and water (wheat paste).  The printer was Matthew Chase Daniel of Axle Contemporary.  They are painted in vertical strips that have been pasted together.  Other images on other walls could appear anywhere at any time.