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Connecting maker, object, viewer

Frank Rose is opening a new gallery, Hecho a Mano, on Canyon Road. Here, he poses with a pot by the Mateo family from San Marcos, Oaxaca, Mexico. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Frank Rose wanted to work smaller.

The local gallery director describes his passion as building platforms for artists to showcase their work. In May 2016, he co-founded form & concept, the 10,000-square-foot modern art gallery at the edge of the Santa Fe Railyard, with Sandy Zane, a gallery owner whom he’d met while working for Currents New Media the year before.

The form & concept group also runs the online gallery for Zane Bennett Contemporary Art.

Operating two businesses, Rose realized that much of his time was spent on the administrative side of things. And more recently, as form & concept has started gaining recognition and a name for itself, Rose said he got to thinking about his future.

“I think once you get to a place where you have that momentum going, at least for me, I either get a little anxious – like what’s the next thing – or (want to) take it into another arena and go deeper,” said Rose. “What I was feeling like was I wasn’t spending enough time with clients and artists … . I realized I needed to go small and spend more time with people.”

Lithographs from the 1940s by Carlos Merida are part of a portfolio titled “Carnival in Mexico” and are ready to be hung at a new gallery, Hecho a Mano, that is opening on Canyon Road. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Around the same time form & concept opened, Rose first visited Oaxaca, Mexico, as part of a folk art trip organized by a local gallery owner. In his several trips since, he’s become immersed in the Mexican province’s “vibrant” contemporary and historic printmaking culture. He began meeting artists and collecting Oaxacan work from the mid-20th century onward.

Now, a few months after leaving form & concept in October, Rose is debuting his new gallery, Hecho a Mano. The Canyon Road spot, which will focus on showcasing handmade art from Latin and North America, opens on Friday.

According to Rose, one of his main goals with his new gallery is to foster a connection between maker, object, and viewer.

“I think so many times art can get disassociated from its maker,” said Rose. “And we tend to see it in a vacuum because a lot of places don’t connect the artist to the maker. You see the object and it’s great, but somebody made that.”

“So, Hecho a Mano is sort of a call to that ethos,” he continued. “That somebody made this; this was made by hand. I don’t want a lot of things to be under glass. I want people to be able to touch things. I want that connection.”

Hecho a Mano, taking over the former Beals & Co. showroom at the top of Canyon Road, is certainly a smaller and much different kind of space for Rose. His new gallery is around 500 square feet, with classic adobe features like wooden floors and vigas – he described the building as having a “sense of age” – compared to the large form & concept space with the concrete floor, a lot of glass and other modern architecture features.

Following his departure from form & concept, Rose was working at Opuntia Café and considering selling his collected pieces through an online gallery. It was at the café that he overheard Bobby Beals, the former lessee of the Canyon Road spot, discussing plans. Beals told Rose about the soon-to-be-available gallery space.

“I wasn’t tracking on Canyon Road at all at the time,” Rose explained. “In fact, I was probably averse to opening on Canyon.”

The famous art street known for its commercial galleries wasn’t necessarily his scene, he said, but he wants to make it clear that he appreciates all sides of the art community. “I’m not denigrating any of it, it’s all important,” he explained. “I think every facet of art, from the purely conceptual to the purely commercial, is a part of the ecosystem.”

When he entered the old building, Rose said, he had an “intuitive feeling.”

“It just felt right,” he said.

He hopes to make Hecho a Mano a place for local art lovers. He will sell items with a range of prices, with big-ticket items, as well as pieces he and his peers can afford. He also hopes to bring in a Santa Fe audience by offering interactive programming, live artist talks or small music shows.

Rose said that’s similar to what form & concept has done to make that gallery more experience-based, somewhere “life is happening.”

“And of course looking at art is an experience, but a human experience, one where there’s humans connecting to humans,” he said.

There isn’t a “tidy” definition of the type of work the gallery will be carrying, Rose explained, in terms of medium or era. But the main through line will reflect the gallery’s name.

“I’m not carrying anything that’s machine made,” said Rose. “If somebody is doing digital prints, not interested.”

His first exhibition, opening on Friday and staying up until April, features a 1940 series of lithographs by the late Carlos Merida.

Merida, who was born in Guatemala, but lived in Mexico most of his life, was widely known for his cubist-style paintings and murals. However, Rose’s collection is from earlier work that Rose described as more ethnographic-style studies, particularly of costumes and dress.

The characters in the 10 lithographs were inspired by what Merida saw during a Carnivale celebration in Mexico. His illustrations include Oaxacan men dressed up as animals and cross-dressing as women.

Rose said he’s searching for artists working at “the intersection of innovation and tradition.”

“To me, it’s very general, but really I think pinpoints what it is I look for,” he said. “Artists that maybe draw on some type of tradition, but are expounding on it in contemporary ways.”

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