Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Reflections from Santa Fe

I just spent two weeks on the road. I drove out to visit my brother who lives in Santa Fe. Along the way I stopped to visit my friends Mae and Marcie who live in northern, rural Louisiana. While there, I celebrated St. Patty’s day at an Irish Pub (granted, I departed from the program by drinking rum and coke), then we ate Cane’s chicken fingers…delish!

We also spent time driving around historic Monroe, ate at the Mohawk (two words: delight sauce), and then imbibed drive-through daquiris…while noodling around the park.

Then I left and headed on towards Santa Fe, and except for the worst hamburger I have ever eaten (including fast food burgers), the trip through Texas was uneventful.

Santa Fe is the second largest art market in the States, second only to NYC. Or at least that’s what they told me while I was there. And certainly, they seem to have the galleries, museums, and artists to back up that claim. Downtown Santa Fe is a relatively small area, easily navigable in an afternoon. That is not to say that one can visit every point of interest in that afternoon, but one can (with the help of a map) get the lay of the land and mentally mark points of interest.

A couple of things came to light while poking around the city.

1. Most of the galleries maximize their wall space: the galleries (for the most part) are hung salon-style with a variety of artists.

2. Even those galleries that hang in a manner more consistent with what we think of as “contemporary” show a variety of artists.

3. Where possible the artists represented are a mix of nationally recognized names, and those that are more regionally recognized.

4. There are a range of products and items available…including jewelry, accessories, books, and often, artist prints.

5. Almost without fail (except for the Andrew Smith Gallery) the gallery worker-bees were friendly and knowledgeable…talking to just about every person who walked through their doors, regardless of outward appearances.

It seems to me that Santa Fe (though drawing on a much older tradition of art-making and artists in residence) might be a more effective model of an art community, than say, larger cities whose reputations rest on austerity. Perhaps an exuberant, slightly hippie-dippy (for lack of a better term) approach is one that could be inherently more inclusive, and thereby more successful—both in a fiscal and cultural manner.

Of course, that is something that I tend to buck against, but perhaps a greater range of work (including that which I find distasteful, sentimental, and trite) has room for those things I find important and engaging.

Well, the Riverside Art Market opens in three days, and I suspect it’ll be a zoo scenario on Saturday. Nonetheless, I’ll be there…we can only wait and see what happens.

Well, that and keep making work.

And, if you’re at loose ends for things to do this Friday night, in addition to the First Friday event in 5 Points, there’s the Jane Gray Bright Young Things opening from 6-9 p.m., and there, I’ve got brand-new, never-before-seen works.

Jane Gray Gallery, 643 Edison Avenue (one block off Riverside Avenue), Jacksonville, 904-762-8826.


steph said...

I didn't know Santa Fe had a large art market...interesting.

i have to ask: was there alien art?

madeleine said...

no...but I might not've looked hard enough : )