2021 Governor’s Awards recognize excellence in the arts

Ricardo Caté, from Santo Domingo Pueblo, is one of four artists honored in the Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Arts and culture remain a driving force in New Mexico.

Normally, the sector contributes $5.6 billion to the state’s economy and provides about one in 10 jobs across the state.

While tourism did slow last year, artists continued to create and contribute to the elevation of the state’s culture.

On Tuesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the recipients of the 2021 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts.

Dave Grusin is a recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. (Courtesy of Grusin Film)

The list includes Edward “Gus” Foster, Ricardo Caté, Susan Contreras, Dave Grusin, Kathleen Wall, gallupARTS and Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts.

Foster, based in Taos, is recognized as an individual supporter of the arts, and gallupARTS and Spencer Theater in Alto are major contributors to the arts.

Caté is from Santo Domingo Pueblo and is the only Native cartoonist to be featured in a mainstream daily newspaper, the Santa Fe New Mexican, with his series “Without Reservations.”

He is also a stand-up comedian, activist and filmmaker.

“I try to ‘educate’ my readers about certain tribes and certain dates in Native American history that should have been told already,” Caté said. “I do feel my work is even more important now than ever, both for open-minded egalitarian readers, as well as conservatives who seem to be most offended by my work. I would like to think I am starting to bridge the gap between the two so that real discussions can start to take place.”

Susan Contreras is known for using masks in her art; she is pictured in 2004. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Contreras was born in Mexico City but moved to Santa Fe in 1968. She left the state for college and returned in 1981 to Santa Fe, where she has remained an artist.

Her style is expressed through the use of masks from her impressive collection of more than 150 from Central America.

“Masks reflect a desire to escape and explore, and when painting, I can be a space traveler, a deep-sea diver or, say, a cat, a fish, a faster-than-fast greyhound, chasing a cat in space or a fish in the ocean,” Contreras said. “Sometimes when I’m painting, I feel as if the masks are painting themselves, singing their own operas, building their own sets.”

Santa Fe resident Grusin has been described as one of the 20th century’s most important music composers. He’s created themes for such films as “On Golden Pond,” “The Firm,” “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” “Havana,” “Tootsie,” “Heaven Can Wait” and “3 Days of the Condor.”

Kathleen Wall, Jemez Pueblo, paints one of her clay sculptures at her home in Jemez Pueblo in 2019. Susan Contreras is known for using masks in her art; she is pictured in 2004. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Wall learned Jemez Pueblo clay traditions from her mother and aunts and forged her path in the art world.

She has taken the clay storyteller figures that such pueblos as Jemez and Cochiti traditionally created and put her own distinctive stamp on them by using Koshari clown figures similar to those who enliven pueblo dances throughout New Mexico.

“Over the past 18 months, we have turned to arts and culture for entertainment, comfort and understanding,” stated Debra Garcia y Griego, Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. “As we move forward, creative workers, organizations and those that support them are more important in building the physical, emotional and economic well-being of our communities.”

For a complete list of award-winners, visit media.nmculture.org.

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