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Exhibit features pioneers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The South Broadway Cultural Center is hosting “Albuquerque Art: A Look Back,” a showcase of works by the heroes of Albuquerque’s most groundbreaking era in the arts.

The beautifully designed exhibition was inspired by Ann Lerner, organized by Lisa Goldman and curated by Augustine Romero.

Participating artists include sculptor Herbert Goldman, painter Richard Diebenkorn, printmaker Adja Yunkers, artist/architect Robert Walters and his wife ceramicist Billie Walters.

The comprehensive exhibition also showcases Old Town art scene pioneers Bob and Peg Hooton, artist/educator Frank McCulloch, who taught hundreds of students the value of creativity, abstract expressionists Alice and Jack Garver and modernists Connie Fox and Patricia Waterman Smith, who all helped lay the foundation for Albuquerque’s current status as a vibrant international arts community.

An examination of the period between 1947 and 1960 unveils Albuquerque as a powerhouse of creative energy that drew countless visual artists, writers and performing artists to what became an incubator for the nation’s creative imagination following World War II. In a Nov. 22, 1950 letter to Transcendentalist Painting Group founder and University of New Mexico professor Raymond Jonson, New York artist Yunkers wrote: “As far as I am concerned, my personal ‘salvation’ lies in and through the Southwest – with all its shortcomings and lovable idiosyncrasies. It’s birthplace and burial ground to me.”

That same year Yunkers edited and published the multimedia folio titled “Prints in the Desert,” bringing international attention to printmakers including himself, Frederick O’Hara, Robert Walters and Jack Garver.

In the May 1952 issue of The Art Digest Joan Evans wrote: “Slowly the artistic center of gravity in New Mexico is shifting from her mountains to her mesas; from the established colonies of Taos and Santa Fe to the spirited, sometimes garish boomtown, Albuquerque. This city – home of atom bombs, jet fighter pilots and Fred Harvey Indians – is the scene of an exciting spiritual renaissance in New Mexican art.”

Goldman was a large contributor to New Mexico’s renaissance with his participation as an instructor and exhibiting artist at the Albuquerque Modern Museum (1952-1956), a short-lived but highly influential institution, and his completion of commissions for banks and public buildings throughout the state.

If you go
WHAT: “Albuquerque Art: A Look Back”WHEN: Through June 22. Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Call 848-1320WHERE: South Broadway Cultural Center, 1025 Broadway SEHOW MUCH: Free

His work was inspired by a wide range of artists including Julio Gonzales, Jean Arp and Alexander Archipenko.

It feels as if Gonzales was stylistically standing over Goldman when he executed “Raven,” a gorgeous welded steel piece from 1959 that truly captures the spirit of flight.

Goldman’s stylized bear in the main gallery embraces both Arp and Archipenko’s formalism while expressing the essential nature of the animal. But other artists did not teach Goldman his intuitive grasp of monumentality and elegance of design that is revealed throughout his body of work.

Walters and his friend William Howard founded the aforementioned Albuquerque Modern Museum as an exhibition and instructional space that was independent of, while being an adjunct institution to, UNM.

Walters went on to become a successful independent architect, studio painter and professor emeritus of architecture at UNM. He was a powerful creative force throughout his life and saw Arshile Gorky (1904-1948) as one of his main inspirations.

In Walters’ “Running Woman in Merida” from 1996, one can find a touch of Gorky while also seeing a strong parallel inspiration coming from Giorgio de Chirico’s “Mystery and Melancholy of a Street” from 1914.

Walters and Diebenkorn were good friends during the late 1940s and early 1950s before Diebenkorn moved to the Midwest to teach. Diebenkorn eventually moved to California where he achieved fame and fortune. His sketch in the exhibit is one of the small sparks that lead to his success.

Billie Walters produces ceramic works that range from pure fine art to functional pottery. Her wonderfully imaginative “Hidden Woman Series” that began in the 1980s raises questions about the role of women in the world’s cultures.

She has four works in the show that may follow the theme of veiled women from the Mideast. But with the current rise of radical fundamentalism throughout the world’s religions including Christianity, Walters is not taking sides.

Billie Walters must have sublimated her own creativity to keep the wheels turning having borne four children while offering moral support to an oak-like man like Robert Walters. These beautifully executed relief sculptures contain a personal as well as universal message: She has the juice!

Printmaker Alice Garver offers a monoprint titled “Sleeping Woman” with sinuous lines and heroic scale. The rendering incorporates classical figuration within expressionism.

McCulloch offers a cross section of works ranging from traditional figurative imagery through minimal abstraction to his signature landscape style. He remains one of Albuquerque’s most prolific and influential personalities.

There are many more works that should be mentioned like the jaw-dropping heroic scale “Tommy” portrait sculpture by Patricia Waterman Smith but space is running out. Don’t miss this wonderful piece of Albuquerque history.



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