Artist Ivan Barnett explores the textures and hidden corners of Santa Fe’s historic neighborhoods in his latest photography series at Patina Gallery.
On view through August 31, 2021
Patina Gallery, Santa Fe
For many artists, 2020 was a lost year not only for sharing work but also for making it. But when artist Ivan Barnett walked the emptied streets of his hometown of Santa Fe late last year, he saw a unique opportunity to rediscover the city he first visited as a boy. Though Barnett’s primary media are sculpture, drawing, and painting, he applied his design skills through his digital camera to create the thirty unedited images featured in Seeing the City Different.
Seeking to capture the “real town” of Santa Fe, the project took Barnett to well-known historical destinations, like the Santa Fe Plaza, as well as working-class neighborhoods, such as Agua Fria. Accompanying each image is a text that includes historical references and personal stories written by the artist.
We spoke with Barnett about his exhibition, the city of Santa Fe, and his transition to photography.
You’re generally known for creating mobiles and weathervanes. When did photography become one of your media?
I grew up in an artistic family where photography was always part of the vocabulary because my father would take pictures of different locations for his projects. I grew up with some very well-known photographers, so it was something always around. I don’t think I ever picked it up as a medium to create imagery per se the way I just did. However, when I was in China in 2012, I had my first digital camera and I started taking pictures with digital. That was sort of a turning point for me.
How did your creative approach to this project change since you typically create images and objects with your hands?
For me, it’s all about design whether I’m in a studio making a mobile or painting. It comes down to shape, color, form, and design—it isn’t any different. The camera is a tool for design and that’s why none of the images that I took have been cropped or edited. These are all full-frame images. I didn’t change one thing.
Santa Fe is sometimes criticized for prioritizing the wealthy over working-class locals. Is there an intentional or unintentional commentary on this that these photographs provide?
No, the subject matter crosses all cultural realms. I didn’t limit my locations to the gentrified parts of the city versus the more local parts of the city. We spent a lot of time in the different barrios off of Agua Fria. These are not gentrified locations; they’re working-class locations. The subject matter is what drove me to stop and take pictures. I’m less attracted to commercial spots and have always been attracted to the road less traveled. I wanted to show the Santa Fe that has diversity. Asking “what’s interesting?” is what drove the decisions, not the need to balance things in one spot versus another. I was interested in the real town, not as much in the commercial Santa Fe that’s promoted in all the magazines. The real town is what interests me.