30 Under 30: The Next Generation, Santa Fe Community Gallery, 201 W. Marcy St., 505-955-6705; through Sept. 3
The Santa Fe Community Gallery’s current exhibition, 30 Under 30: The Next Generation, showcases 30 artists under thirty years old, all from New Mexico. 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. The gallery offers a unique opportunity for local artists, who can submit portfolios of artwork for possible display and offer programming input. This inclusive approach makes the space feel uniquely welcoming — more like a museum than a commercial gallery, even though the work on display is for sale; artists receive 60 percent of a purchase, and the remainder goes to the City of Santa Fe. For the burgeoning artists in 30 Under 30, the Community Gallery is a great chance to exhibit — and sell — artwork.
Albuquerque-based artist Seiya Bowen took apart a kitchen stove for his eight-piece untitled installation. Bowen told Pasatiempo, “My parents owned a small Japanese restaurant where my entire family worked. It was our livelihood and a gathering place, but the restaurant closed unexpectedly due to my grandparents’ poor health — and my mom’s need to look after them.” Grill plates and trays, still splattered with grease, are encased in ultra-modern white-and-Plexiglas vitrines — a display choice that might seem ironic or silly without knowledge of the artist’s bittersweet back story. Spanning almost an entire gallery wall is Reyes Padilla’s installation of meticulously detailed eyes, painted onto small, rounded pieces of wood; each of the diminutive paintings depicts eyes of people to whom the artist is close, producing a startlingly intimate effect. Nearby, a small bronze sculpture of a bunny by Barbara Menchaca crouches on a pedestal. Its pleasantly plump body is round and soft-looking, with petite ears and tiny paws that are not only adorable but also expertly crafted. Mixed-media artist Aubrey de Cheubell’s hands-on installation at first appears to be a row of small boxes, until you notice a sign inviting visitors to open them; each one produces its own unique sound when its lid is lifted.
Photographer Kai Margarida-Ramirez’s work is beautifully and unusually composed. A pair of framed photos contains figures all but obscured by an overlay of meticulously cut-out paper. Based on its title, Re-Membered Self is presumably an image of the artist as a child, but its small central figure is barely visible, covered as she is with lacy white paper. Delicate silverpoint-on-paper drawings by Zoe Blackwell contain hundreds of tiny stars, some of which form subtle constellations. Sandwiched between them is a sort of poem, which looks like it was written on an old typewriter, and whose all-caps phrases read like fortunes: “You seek intrigue and the more daring the outcome of life, the better you like it.” Lara Nickel’s oil painting Giant Prickly Pear is more than seven feet wide, its mammoth proportions exaggerated by an unusual display. Propped against a right angle in a corner of the gallery, it seems to pop out from the walls behind it. Nickel, whose work shows at both Ernesto Mayans and Nedra Matteucci Galleries in Santa Fe, is one of the show’s more established artists. Giant Prickly Pear is technically superb, and the vivid green, richly textured surface looks brightly modern against a stark white background. Other highlights from the exhibition include a quirky, intricate metal piece by Dolores Yvette Tarango made entirely of horseshoes, and Craig Moya’s dazzling straw appliqué-over-acrylic portrait of the Virgin Mary, called No Original Sin.
With 30 Under 30, the Santa Fe Community Gallery has done a brilliant job not only in giving younger artists an opportunity to exhibit work, but also in introducing viewers to talented new artists.