Sandia Lewis: A Survey of Her Work, Argos Studio and Santa Fe Etching Club, 1211 Luisa St., 505-988-1814; through Oct. 11
Sandra “Sandia” Lewis’ pastels, oils, and watercolors on exhibit at Argos Studio and Santa Fe Etching Club have an old-world feel. Her work evokes the moods of cold winter days, halcyon summers, and the shifting arboreal colors of autumn. It is clear from the nearly 50 works on display that Lewis has a love of gardens, forests, and the sea. Sandia Lewis: A Survey of Her Work offers an extensive body of images by a Santa Fe-based artist with a long career in the arts. In a town dominated by Southwestern landscapes, it’s refreshing to see Lewis’ paintings of the terrain and architecture of New England and Europe. Her work seems to belong more to the 19th than the 21st century, recalling the softly rendered coastal scenes of James McNeill Whistler.
Lewis has a subtle way of handling watercolors and pastels, suggesting the rippling waters of the sea with minimal mark making. The stillness of her paintings of Venice, Salzburg, and the Berkshires contrasts with more dramatic imagery of storm-swept beaches and piercing sunlight breaking through the clouds. Clearing Storm, which depicts an old house emerging from the fog, is beautiful and haunting in equal measure. Her pastel landscapes and seascapes are atmospheric. Stormy Sea was rendered with a sense of how paper can be more than a mere surface for mark making and can become part of the image.
Seeing an art exhibit at Argos gives one an appreciation for technique. As a meeting place for the Santa Fe Etching Club and multiple drawing groups, including the Eli Levin Drawing Group (of which Lewis is a member), Argos offers a slightly different experience from most other galleries. Someone is almost always hard at work on an etching there, and the gallery provides plenty of examples of the Etching Club’s products.
Argos primarily exhibits works on paper. There are a few exceptions in the Lewis show, including some portraits in oils and a handful of still lifes. These, along with the pastels and watercolors, fit right in. There is something antiquarian about Argos’ purview. The gallery itself has a homey feel, and a body of images such as Lewis’ could hang there forever and never be out of place.
There’s not a lot of room for exposition in the show, but none is necessary. The salon-style exhibition is a walk back in time to an earlier era in places such as Hamburg and London, cities Lewis depicts as enduring in quiet dignity. In her landscapes Lewis treats woods and tended garden scenes with the same reverence as her cityscapes, and with a perennial view of nature and the world.