the good earth

To be one with the land is a difficult yet simple way to live.

Technology troubles are nonexistent. Hard work is needed, but the rewards are plentiful.

For generations, communities popped up around the world where people chose to live off the land. From building their own houses to growing and raising their food, those communities strived to make a simpler life.

If you go
WHAT: “unCommon Ground,” featuring photo exhibits “Across the Great Divide” and “Worlds Outside This One”
WHEN: Reception 6-8 p.m. Saturday, June 4. Exhibition runs through Aug. 27
WHERE: 516 ARTS, 516 W. Central
INFO: For more information on upcoming programs or events tied in with the exhibitions visit www.516arts.org or call 242-1445

That’s the focus of 516 ARTS and The Alvarado Urban Farm’s upcoming event “unCommon Ground.”

It will host exhibitions and programs that explore self-sufficiency, community and visions of utopia. It begins on Saturday, June 4, and runs until Aug. 27.

Albuquerque photographer Roberta Price will unveil her “Across the Great Divide” exhibition. Price’s work is a photographic memoir of the back-to-the-land movement in the late 1960s and ’70s.

She said the photos in her 45-piece exhibition were taken from 1969 to 1977 in the Southwest.

The exhibit will travel to Denver in the fall and then to Museum of Bethel Woods in Bethel, N.Y., in 2012.

Price decided to do an exhibition and book before she sold her negatives to Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

Her book “Across the Great Divide” was published by UNM Press in 2010.

Price’s career began in 1969, when she was a teaching fellow and Ph.D. student in the English department at the State University of New York – Buffalo. She got a faculty fund grant to travel West in the summer and explore and photograph communes that were springing up in New Mexico and Colorado. Over eight years, Price said, she took more than 3,000 photos of commune life. For almost seven years, she “went native” and joined Libre — a Colorado community of artists and writers.

She said her record of photos in the Huerfano Valley provides a unique view of commune life through the eyes of a participant.

“I’m overwhelmed at the amount of energy that was expended,” she said during a recent phone interview. “People played hard and they worked hard. They set up water systems, built houses and started agricultural practices.”

Price said from her viewpoint she was able to capture the passion and idealism of the community.

“I don’t think the media or academia has handled this subject very well,” she said. “So much came out of this movement. Yoga, the gay movement, organic foods, local foods, simple buildings and solar. All of these things were being explored by these people.”

Price said having her negatives preserved is a great thing for history.

“I was one of the few who stayed for a long time to capture this movement,” she explained. “I just wanted to be able to capture everything that was going on at the time. I’ve had a great career.”

516 ARTS also will feature “Worlds Outside This One,” which was curated by Erin Elder. The exhibition features a group of emerging international artists and innovators responding to the legacy of homesteading, squatting, hermitage and fort building.

Many of the featured artists in this exhibition are architects, philosophers, entrepreneurs, urban planners, economists and community builders.

The Alvarado Urban Farm is co-sponsoring the summerlong event.

Rick Remmie, organizer for the farm, said the idea to co-sponsor was a no-brainer.

“We have an outside space and it seemed like a natural fit,” he said.

The farm is on Silver Avenue between First and Second streets.

The project is a unique collaboration of commercial and community farms, weekday farmers’ market, entertainment and education.

“We’re still in the development stages,” he says. “We’ll be laying out the farm in the next couple weeks.”

Remmie says the farm will have 86 above-ground beds, as well as pecan trees.

“This project is just a great fit to growing your own food and bringing the community together and live simply,” he says. “It goes well with the exhibitions showing.”

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