Artist Dana Newmann moved to New Mexico in 1972, after living in California during the 1960s where she attended the California College of Arts and Crafts, now the California College of the Arts. She and her husband, painter Eugene Newmann, spent a brief time in California housesitting for friends in a coastal home built over the water. The floors were fashioned from glass cubes, allowing you to see the water beneath, pounding the shore. Part of their housesitting duties involved caring for the owner’s many orchids. For Dana Newmann, those orchids merged with an interest in Surrealism to become one of the subjects of an early work in collage. In the decades since, she has made numerous collages as well as assemblages, works in glass and bronze, book art, and cabinets of curiosity. A 45-year retrospective of her work opens on Friday, July 11, at Phil Space. Dana Newmann: In the Realm of Surrealism contains 30 framed pieces, three cabinets of curiosity, and bronzes cast at the Shidoni Foundry in Tesuque.
Newmann’s works incorporate distressed papers, vernacular photography, thorns, puzzle boxes, text and illustrations culled from books, and numerous objects gathered on her travels to Mexico, Uzbekistan, North Africa, Japan, and France, among other places. She is the author New Mexico Artists at Work, a collaboration with photographer Jack Parsons, which gives a glimpse inside the studios of more than 50 working New Mexico artists. Her own is modest in size, perfectly suited to the intricate, often small-scale pieces she makes. “Botanical Study was my first surreal image,” Newmann told Pasatiempo, referencing the orchid-inspired collage from 1969. “The Surrealists thought that their art would be based on the subconscious, and that’s what we’re going on when we’re dreaming.”
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