Santa Fe and Taos

Santa Fe and Taos

Various Venues

The three New Mexico artists showing at the Barn Gallery Annex were the jurors for the 1963 New Mexico Artists Biennial. They fold up their tents about a week before the Biennial opens. Of the three, Janet Lippincott is the only full-time painter. Ralph Lewis teaches art at the University of New Mexico, with a personal leaning towards the crafts and Eugene Smith is the director of the progressive Roswell Museum and Art Center. This show, primarily land­scapes, sets them up visually as scape­goats for the freshly rejected Biennial entrants. Lewis’ garish color and Smith’s repetitious brush-strokes and black backgrounds are overpowered by Miss Lippincott’s dynamic abstractions.

Contemporaries Gallery is presenting the first in a series of three (combined) one-man shows: Walter Pickette, oils, Helga Gilbert, photographs, Christina Kercheville, watercolors. Walter Pick­ette’s portion of the exhibit includes a series of untitled paintings, three oils done last year and a few drawings.These all utilize the figure. There is a thread of continuity between the earlier works and those completed recently. The full figure, vague features and warm pal­ette, change to the close-up in rich, dark color. These are almost baroque in their plump ugliness, but the obscure hairpin holding a spit-curl snaps one back to the present. The three representing 1962, Man Running, Woman with Chair and Man with Fence, have a disturbingly’ nostalgic atmosphere. Last year or this year, Walter Pickette is good.

Helga Gilbert is also concerned with the figure, in this case the Italian, docu­mented with the all-seeing eye of her camera. Mrs. Gilbert is gentle and re­served in her approach and the sub­ject responds.

Christina Kercheville’s work is un­even. A watercolor landscape and a few abstract paintings are visually appeal­ing, but her use of the figure is con­trived.

Canyon Road has a new contemporary art gallery, the Del Mone Sol Gallery, currently showing not many paintings by Dean Holt, Tom Brown, Hugh Hud­son, Jorge Fick, and Anthea Mawbl It is hoped that Santa Fe encourages the permanence and expansion of this type of gallery.

Three exhibits at the Fine Arts Mu­seum are recent paintings by Randall Davey, the American Watercolor Soci­ety’s Annual Traveling Exhibition and the National Exhibition of Small Paint­ings, compiled by the Tour Gallery of Albuquerque. (This last exhibit was su­posedly organized as a reaction against the current trend of large paintings.) This show has something for everyone, from slick portraits to black burlap col­lage. For those disturbed by oversized paintings, the sight of a room full of tiny canvases running in a horizontal line along four walls may be soothing. Mr. Davey, a Santa Fe artist for forty-­five years, shares more of his delight with the race track through his pen and ink sketches. The watercolors are hand­some exploitations of the medium. Wil­liam Thomson’s Evening Bathers adds serious depth to the exhibit.

Art and the Atom is an exhibition of contemporary art used in scientific ad­vertisements. Emil Bisttram, Louise Ganthiers, Michael Klein, Robert D. Ray, Louis Ribak, Oli Sihvonen, Jim Simmons and Charles Stewart are the Taos artists featured in this collection of thirty paintings, which will tour El Paso, Santa Fe, Fort Worth, San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Nevada and Dallas. The paintings are currently lean­ing against the top shelf of the Mesa Public Library in Los Alamos. The accompanying catalog stresses the point that none of the chosen works were commissioned for the promotion publi­cations. “Rather, all were selected from already completed paintings on the ba­sis of the capacity of the particular piece to portray symbolically the es­sence of the research field under consideration.” The exhibition also includes some of the finished advertising illustrations used by the Los Alamos Scien­tific Laboratory. Some of these paintings are improved by being transferred into black and white reproductions. But this is not true of Oli Sihvonen’s cool, pre­cise nonobjectives, which lose their im­pact and are reduced to good design. It is an interesting show in terms of seeing a selected segment of art as viewed through the eyes of a personnel director with a purpose, but since it is not rep­resentative of the better works of artists like Louise Ganthiers and Louis Ribak, it is unfortunate that it will tour the West. 

Frances C. Smith