One doesn’t make comparisons between two or more separate exhibits lightly, but in the case of the gallery’s current shows, comparisons can be hard to avoid. Still, the three artists' works — which do have some obvious correspondences because each body of work exists, in part, as a variation on the themes of geometry, shape, and color — must also be considered on their own as befitting the contexts in which they were made. The gallery, however, seems to match exhibit to exhibit in a thoughtful arrangement.

Art in Review

Alcoves 16/17 #6

The past few Alcoves exhibits in the series have worked well as solo installations, but the installations are also effective in conversation with one another. The same is true of #6, which features installations by Jo Whaley, Chris Collins, Christy Georg, Valerie Roybal, and Jami Porter Lara.

The theme of the show draws inspiration from the idea of the artist as alchemist, exploring materiality and transformation. Each of the five artists included in the show — Bill Skrips, Amy Parrish, Ann Laser, Patricia Pierce, and Marilyn Chambers — are showing a broad selection of recent works.

Through Dec. 11, the Lannan Foundation hosts an exhibition — or, more specifically, an engaging, multidimensional portrait of a vast western landscape. In their pieces, the seven participating artists, all alumni of the Land Arts of the American West program at the University of New Mexico, respond to time spent roaming over a 20,000-acre cattle and sheep ranch in northeastern Wyoming.

The fifth entry in the museum’s ongoing Alcoves exhibition is a strong showing by five New Mexico-based artists whose works are related by their uncommon use of materials, an emphasis on structural form, and a clear Postminimalist aesthetic. Several other exhibits opened in October, including a show of large-scale works by Harmony Hammond, John Zurier, and Nick Aguayo.

You can get tangled in the new exhibition by Strangers Collective — specifically in the complex, layered taut-string piece System2 by Alex Gill. Hanging nearby in the lobby gallery at the Center for Contemporary Arts is Dissolve 1-9. It’s a series of photographic panels — airscape abstractions — that document a trip. There are works by 11 other artists and 12 writers in the show.

The visionary paintings of Mark Spencer describe the space created when opposing forces converge in an uneasy truce. Creativity is born in that space, as is an archetypal landscape that transcends history and time, speaking directly to the human condition. It’s a landscape peopled with abstracted human and godlike figures, where recognizable forms are only suggested.

Panoramic landscapes looking inland from the sea are the first few images in photographer Mary Peck’s lush and luminous series of portraits of Florida’s Everglades. The viewer heads from the ocean into a jungle of peat moss, towering cacti, cypresses, bromeliads, and marsh grasses. Here is the home of tree frogs, wigeons, alligators, crocodiles, panthers, and, according to Peck’s introduction to a recently published catalog, “at least forty-three kinds of mosquitos.”

You get the sense when viewing the work of artist James Holmes that you’re on the verge of accessing privileged information, as if you could fit the pieces together in your mind just so and thus wrest some understanding from his arcane synthesis of the surreal and the vernacular.

Master printer Marina Ancona opened her Brooklyn print shop 10 Grand Press in 1999 on the site of a former sewing factory. Since that time the business has expanded to include a location in Santa Fe. Ancona’s press is an independent shop for various printmaking techniques, including intaglio, relief printing, and paper lithography. But it’s the monotype that emerges as the strongest print type represented in the show.

Watts takes to color with a sense of passion. Despite the uniformity of the paintings’ dimensions and the manner in which they are made — always following the same vertical transition from light to dark — they are far from sterile. As minimalist works, they are repetitive, but not multiples of one another.

The word “sacred” has an assortment of meanings and contexts today, but when the region in question is Asia, the word generally refers to rituals or spaces. Both these references are the subjects of two current exhibits, one at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, and the other at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City.

Jennifer Schlesinger originally envisioned her exhibit Along the Pecos to be shown in a windowless dark room with black walls, the only available light to be directed at her prints of subjects taken on the Pecos River in Northern New Mexico.

Susan York: Carbon is a stimulating way to re-experience works by Georgia O’Keeffe in dialogue with a contemporary artist. The context is a new, museum-wide presentation of O’Keeffe’s art — A Great American Artist. A Great American Story — which considers her from multiple perspectives in galleries separated by themes such as Abstract Nature, Georgia O’Keeffe’s New Mexico, Preserving a Legacy, and American Icon(s).

The comprehensive exhibition acts very much like a historical survey, comprising more than 80 original works that span the artist’s career. Regally framed oil paintings are joined by a number of works on paper, including Untitled (Riding Navajo), a pen-and-ink drawing of a horse-mounted man in profile.

The artists, chosen by curators Meaghan Ferguson, Joanne Lefrak, Marisa Sage, Brad Hamman, and Tey Marianna Nunn, work in a broad range of genres, from sculpture and oil painting to audio installations and photography.

Santa Fe’s Center has long been a champion of emerging and established photographers alike. Each year, the not-for-profit organization awards grants to international photographers, allowing underfunded artists to pursue both fine art and documentary photographic objectives. Diverse judges choose winners from hundreds of applicants, samples of which constitute the Center for Contemporary Arts’ annual exhibition The Curve: A Global View of New Photography.

It may be international, but Currents includes a fair amount of works from local and regional talent. For more than a decade, Santa Fe’s homegrown festival of new media has advanced steadily from a sporadic enterprise with a handful of artists to an annual event of much larger proportions. It’s high tech and high concept and provides a sense of the multitudinous ways new technology can be used in service to creativity.

The gaseous element neon was discovered by British chemists in 1898. Very soon after, it was manipulated into sealed tubes by early industrialists and sold to advertisers, who immediately recognized neon lighting’s ability to alert and entice. By the 1960s, neon lights were a ubiquitous feature of the urban landscape, so its use as an art material is hardly surprising.

SITE Santa Fe is celebrating its 20-year anniversary by inviting back artists who have exhibited at the space in the past. SITE 20 Years/20 Shows: Spring, the first in a series of yearlong exhibits, is designed to incorporate the museum’s history in a show that’s more intimate than the broad-ranging biennial that premiered last summer.

Five years ago, local artists Matthew Chase-Daniel and Jerry Wellman came up with the novel idea of an art gallery on wheels, and Axle Contemporary, Santa Fe’s only such venue, was born. You never know where it might turn up: in the parking lot of Harry’s Roadhouse; parked in the Railyard by the Farmers Market …

Over the last few years, American artists Thornton Dial and Lonnie Holley have enjoyed a surge in attention, with profiles in The New York TimesThe New Yorker, and Time. The two Alabama natives found a place in the spotlight largely through the efforts of collector William Arnett, a noted champion of African American vernacular artists and of the quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama (he has written books on both subjects).

Most of the work in Level/Land, on view in the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts’ Lloyd Kiva New Gallery is informed by Shinnecock artist Courtney M. Leonard’s exploration of word meanings. Each piece is designated by a single-word title, playing off the multiple meanings of words in English.

Axle Contemporary, Santa Fe’s roving gallery on wheels, invited guests to explore the things that make art possible in the recent exhibit, Tools. The show’s display of objects, both practical and fanciful, were constructed by 14 New Mexico artists.

When it comes to art, playing the “lowbrow” card could likely conjure visions of Elvis Presley crooning against black velvet backdrops. But what’s surprising about ¡Orale! Kings and Queens of Cool, a four-part exhibition celebrating that category of art (or what’s gaining popularity under the monikers Post-Pop and Pop Surrealism), is that the works themselves are often finely executed, engaging, and, perhaps most importantly, necessary foils for “highbrow” culture.

The only thing disconcerting about the collaborative group exhibition by Zane Bennett Contemporary Art and Tokyo’s Mizuma Art Gallery is the almost sickly sweet cutesiness of some of the works on display. That is not to say that Impacts! is not worth seeing. 

Although the Lannan Foundation’s group show Desert Serenade: Drones, Fences, Cacti, Test Sites, Craters, and Serapes has been up since mid-July, the exhibition’s official reception isn’t until Aug. 9 — a good opportunity to see this minimal, even spalike gallery space, which is open to the public only on Saturdays and Sundays. 

In 2012 James Drake began an ambitious series of drawings, culminating in 1,242 numbered works that are currently on view through September 21 in the exhibition James Drake: Anatomy of Drawing and Space (Brain Trash) at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. In some ways Pages, a show of new drawings by the artist at James Kelly Contemporary, is a continuation of his almost obsessive dedication to the medium.

New Mexico resident Jim Vogel makes his home north of Santa Fe in the pretty but remote little town of Dixon. His surroundings are not exactly quotidian, but perhaps his rural homeland invokes a patriotism like Thomas Hart Benton's, that famous painter of proletariat America.

Hannah Holliday Stewart was born into the upper classes of Birmingham, Alabama, in 1924, but she wasn’t cut out for the life of a Southern belle. From a young age, she was fascinated by the natural world and all its subtle wonders. In a journal entry from her later years, she wrote, “When I was 8 years old I asked my mother what the wind looked like. ..."

Seventeen artists — from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, the Navajo Nation, and the United States — are featured in the exhibit: 15 at 516 Arts and one each at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History and the University of New Mexico Art Museum.

Each year in June, Center, Santa Fe’s hub for photography, hosts Review Santa Fe, a juried portfolio review for international photographers. In advance of the Review Santa Fe Photo Festival, which starts on Thursday, June 26, Center presents its annual show of award-winning photography, The Curve

Traditional tribal arts serve as reference points for Tom Morin’s eclectic sculptures. The circular compositions on painted shields of some Native American tribes, many embedded with colors or lines to indicate the four directions, inspired Morin’s Shield series. Morin’s work is made from repurposed materials — specifically, abrasive belts and discs used for sanding and grinding.

The four gallery spaces on Zane Bennett’s second floor are given over to these artists, and each is shown to good effect. Garcia’s Inside U Abides series greets viewers in the first room. The central image of each of her monoprints is similar — a free-floating coil horizontally spread across the paper, with triangular forms seeming to enter or emerge from the coil at each end — and conveys mood through color changes.

There is nothing pleasant about the work of sculptor Dunham Aurelius, but that is not to say Ruminative Figures is not a worthwhile show. Far from it. Aurelius has elevated grotesquerie to a high art form, relishing in the roughness of shape and material.

As a recipient of 50 works from the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection, the New Mexico Museum of Art is in good company: 2,500 pieces from the collection — early works by Minimalists, post-Minimalists, and Conceptual artists — were divided up and given to institutions throughout the country, with 50 works going to one institution in each of the 50 states.

Alberto Valdés (1918-1998) spent most of his life in Los Angeles after moving from El Paso to the East L.A. neighborhood of Boyle Heights at a young age. Throughout his career he avoided publicly exhibiting or selling his work, which has only caught the public’s attention in the past few years.

Sandia Lewis: A Survey of Her Work, Argos Studio and Santa Fe Etching Club, 1211 Luisa St., 505-988-1814; through Oct. 11

Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3/Contemporary Native North American Art From the Northeast and Southeast, Selected Works, Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, 108 Cathedral Place, 983-1777; through December