Sallie Scheufler curates compelling works by contemporary Albuquerque artists in celebration of Richard Levy Gallery’s thirtieth anniversary.
Made in ABQ
June 2–July 10, 2021
Richard Levy Gallery, Albuquerque
What is there to say about a gallery’s anniversary summer group show? More than one might anticipate, as it turns out.
Instead of using the summer as a chance to relax for a few weeks or trying to leverage an anniversary to control the narrative of all they’ve accomplished over three decades, Richard Levy Gallery, which proudly shows works by local artists in high-profile art fairs throughout the country, let loose their hold of the curatorial reins. Made in ABQ, currently on view through July 10 and curated by artist Sallie Scheufler (who also serves as the gallery’s assistant director), is a selection of works by some of Albuquerque’s most compelling visual artists.
Scheufler lends a fresh curatorial perspective to the exhibition, balancing the show on the sometimes disorienting but always illuminating effects of light and color. Viewers begin to witness the natural world through the eyes of the artists. But experience is relative, and even the so-called natural is not neutral. These contemporary artists bring their individual voices to the story of what it means to make, or be made, in Albuquerque.
The city’s ongoing negotiation with murals as a “community” art form is evident with exhibited works by Noé Barnett and Mick Burson, two artists engaged in making art in the public format as well as creating studio works. With its skull, flowers, and text, Barnett’s Die Empty prompts questions of content and action, meaning and motive, and Burson’s compositions present a spatial tangle of pulley systems, hooks, levers, and toy-like objects.
Earl McBride pushes high chroma (that green!) front and center with his painting Watermelon Sugar Hill with Hat, exemplary of the intense, vibrational color and form relationships in his newest works. Raychael Stine, with her always-impressive color blends and abstractions, continues to use painting as a vehicle to expand color’s emotive power, jostle art historical references, and honor the guiding forces of personal affections.
Beau Carey, whose plein-air paintings have taken a turn toward the slightly surreal in the last year or two, uses repetition to address location, memory, and landscape. Candy-colored sunlight, inextricable from the desert heat, makes an atmospheric appearance in Sean Hudson’s router-carved, painted, and shaped surface, mimicking the dry, cracked face of the desert where life, however prickly or leathery, continues to grow.
Jennifer Nehrbass’s neither-here-nor-there landscapes evoke questionably ideal climates and environs, and Karsten Creightney pulls from the margins of a constructed world to challenge the myths of representation and history in his collage The Burning of Mother Earth.
The sheer satisfaction of looking at Emi Ozawa’s clean-cut paper on paper works, which continue her precise exploration of all things shadow and color, never disappoints. Physicality is also present in Tom Barrow’s images, which remind us of the nature of photography, the manipulation of the medium, and the ever-present influence of pop culture. Mary Tsiongas brings us into a darkened world with Fish Out of Water, silvery minnows darting across a digital screen in depths that hold futures unknown for species, ourselves, and the life-giving but rapidly drying Rio Grande river.
And an image of Scheufler herself, photographed with her two sisters, makes for a somewhat haunting experience that I just can’t shake.
Whether it’s the painful obviousness of her wig compared to the natural hair of the other women, the light in their icy blue-green eyes made all the more striking against the dark brown of their tresses and the earthy background, or the combination with the underlying questions of perceptions and expectations, similarity and difference, I’ll probably never know. But I can’t stop staring.
A public reception for Made in ABQ is scheduled to take place Saturday, June 19, 5-7 pm at Richard Levy Gallery. The exhibition is also viewable online and by appointment.