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Annual Harwood exhibit highlights notable local artists

“Stimulator (Red)” by Lea Anderson is made of pantyhose and socks.

“Stimulator (Red)” by Lea Anderson is made of pantyhose and socks.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As the Harwood Art Center nods toward its 25th anniversary, a series of exhibitions by well- and lesser-known artists sprawls across the former girls school.

The annual “Encompass: 7th & Mountain” exhibition highlights the work of significant local artists, including Lea Anderson, Nani Chacon, Molly Geissman, John Garrett, Bryce Hample, David Leigh, Patrick Nagatani, Valerie Roybal, Suzanne Sbarge and Cedra Wood. This feature exhibition “Interchange” is the first chapter of an anniversary book on the artists of Harwood.

Now the outreach program of Escuela del Sol Montessori, tens of thousands of artists have wound through its brick halls since its 1991 opening as an artistic nucleus, said chief programs officer Julia Mandeville.

“Stalk” by Cedra Wood is part of a series on invasive species.

“Stalk” by Cedra Wood is part of a series on invasive species.

“We were thinking about artists who have engaged with Harwood in multiple ways and on multiple platforms,” she said.

Geissman’s mixed-media encaustic “C’mon Skip, Let’s Have a Puncher” represents a shift from works on panel to works on paper, Mandeville said.

“They took up so much space, so she’s started working on paper instead,” she explained. The mixed-media compositions “have a real depth and robustness,” Mandeville added. Geissman sandwiched her pieces between strips of Plexiglas.

“Molly has been involved in the Harwood for years,” Mandeville continued. “She had a studio here for a long time. She has been an incredible cheerleader and supporter.”

Known for creating realistic paintings of surreal scenes, Wood staged her University of New Mexico master’s in fine arts thesis show at Harwood.

The oil on panel “Stalk” shows a woman standing on a beach, entwined by strangling calla lilies. The painting is part of a series on invasive species.

Widely sold and planted in the Sacramento Valley, calla lilies choke out native plants in wet areas in Australia and Southern California.

The exhibit includes a hand-stitched jacket sewn by the artist.

“She braided every braid,” Mandeville said. “It looks like this medieval couture piece. She had the model wear the jacket in the painting.”

Anderson’s “Stimulator (Red)” is made of pantyhose and socks. She coats the materials in a matte media, shaping them into anamorphic forms as she works. Anderson’s work often exhibits organic or biological characteristics akin to marine life, microbes or fungi.

Tony Anella and Cara McCulloch’s “Land Quilt” is the same site-specific piece the artists showed at the University of New Mexico North Golf Course in 2011. The word “quilt” conjures notions of nurturing, community and collaboration based on the tradition of quilting bees. With “Land Quilt,” the artists expanded the definition to include soil, water, plants and animals. Each patch concentrates natural precipitation with a fabric funnel stretched over a wire frame.

“C’mon Skip, Let’s Have a Puncher” is a mixed-media encaustic by Molly Geissman.

“C’mon Skip, Let’s Have a Puncher” is a mixed-media encaustic by Molly Geissman.

“It’s about the environment and sustainability,” Mandeville said. “The piece is a series of inverted cones. In the middle of these are these openings. It also holds water.”

The water collects in the cones, seeping from the base.

At the exhibition’s opening, the artists invited viewers to create seed balls to be inserted into the quilt, Mandeville said.

“So when the quilt is gone, there will be plants.”

The exhibition encompasses 40 artist studios, a “Corner Shop” of mixed-media animals created by elementary students from Escuela del Sol Montessori, a “Four Points” gallery of youth artists between the ages of 6 and 14, food trucks and music by Cactus Tractor.

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