ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There are several excellent shows in Albuquerque these days but they all don’t have the “wow” factor of the five-artist “Sanctuary: A Personal Journey” exhibition curated by Fernando Delgado now showing at the South Broadway Cultural Center.
Patrick Nagatani, Holly Roberts, Joan Fenicle, Marie Maher and Delgado offer individualized and high-quality interpretations of the exhibition’s theme.
Nagatani has been dealing with serious health issues for several years but remains undaunted in his dogged and often eccentric pursuit of creative expression that reaches far beyond his specialty in photography.
For his latest and possibly most ambitious project he is developing a novel titled “The Race” for which Nagatani has gathered 11 writers as contributors to the text. The book chronicles the storied lives of 15 female pilots from around the world who fly 15 supermarine Spitfire aircraft across the Pacific from Tokyo to San Francisco.
According to the story the planes were discovered in Burma at the end of World War II and brought to Tokyo for restoration and modernization by Keiko Kobahashi, the CEO of Mitsubishi Industries.
Even though the floatplanes are updated to state-of-the-art standards, the increased drag caused by the two floats hanging beneath the fuselage will make for a slow-paced race. The real adventure takes place inside the pilots’ minds confined within their cockpit sanctuaries hour after hour as each one processes the contemplative solitude of the endeavor.
Nagatani’s presentation for the installation consists of 15 images of the individual planes in flight. His beautifully dreamy, lusciously colorful and impeccably wrought ideas and images remind us of the ancient goddesses and their ascendancies from Mother Earth to heavenly sky.
Roberts is an influential artist/photographer who transformed traditional surrealist photomontage and collage into a viable personal expression that allows her to offer an often autobiographical narrative unveiling the humor and pathos of modern life.
Her vertical floating image in “Woman Submerged” may emblemize the burdens of family life, relationship mediation and other societal expectations that tend to submerge women’s true personalities in servitude to collective assumptions rather than liberating their individual talents and unique perspectives.
One of my favorite Roberts works is “Woman with Black Hair,” a wonderfully integrated collage that skillfully blends painting and photography. The seated woman’s head is presented in simultaneous full face and profile thus mixing motion with emotion.
Her most dynamic piece is “Whistle,” an X-shaped composition that echoes American Indian weaving patterns. Roberts’ work is always interesting and challenging.
The selection of works by Fenicle and their arrangement are drop-dead gorgeous. A triptych from her “Running Water” series is a stunning example of landscape photography that illustrates her love of the mountains.
Two pieces from her “Lost in a Forest Dream” series beautifully reach into the surrealistic realm. Both works are printed on unstretched Habotai silk suspended from the top. The flow of the material and the imagery create the other worldly quality of a fading dream.
Maher brings a unique perspective to the sanctuary theme with her “Remembering” piece that reminds her of the safety and security she felt at home. The idea that a memory can offer true sanctuary is a beautiful thought.
Maher also finds peace in “Returning,” which includes the image of a beloved bicycle.
Delgado, who deserves high praise for his selection of art and artists for the exhibit, includes selections from his “Speculum” series. As usual Delgado presents his work with impeccable craftsmanship and the correct scale for his imagery. His work would be far more interesting if he gave himself the freedom to fail. As it is Delgado takes few risks.
Overall this is a thoughtful and beautifully designed show with credit for its dynamic installation going to SBCC curator Augustine Romero. It’s well worth a drive down Broadway.