Second-floor exhibits showcase some of New Mexico’s best - Albuquerque Journal

Second-floor exhibits showcase some of New Mexico’s best

I was pleasantly surprised after trundling upstairs in the Richard Levy Gallery building to reach the Central Features gallery, where I found a stunning show by Jami Porter Lara and J. Matthew Thomas arranged in a beautifully appointed and well-lit contemporary art space.

Actually, the artists are having two solo shows together. Lara is exhibiting luscious ceramic sculpture titled “Unhyphenated,” and Thomas is showing mixed media paintings titled “Geometries” through May 21.

I have been curious about Lara since I saw her work last year in the “Public Selects” exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. Her work is also featured in a “Colores” segment through the public television network.

Thanks to a weeklong visit to Mata Ortiz to work with master traditional potters and her own independent research several years ago, Lara uses ancient methods like coil building, reduction atmosphere wood firing, stone polishing and the use of a puki (a Native American round starting base for pinch and coil pottery making).

Lara’s visit to Mata Ortiz was the result of her participation in the Land-art Project at the University of New Mexico. During that time, she explored the U.S.-Mexican border, where she discovered prehistoric pot shards intermingled with 2-liter plastic water bottles carried and discarded when empty by migrants.

The breathtaking shining black sculptural results of Lara’s studies and hard labor bridge our contemporary throw-everything-away culture with traditional Native American conservation-dedicated cultural norms.

“LDS-MHB-KABR-0316CE-01” by Jami Porter Lara at Central Features is part of her 11-piece solo exhibition of ceramic sculpture.
“LDS-MHB-KABR-0316CE-01” by Jami Porter Lara at Central Features is part of her 11-piece solo exhibition of ceramic sculpture.

In “LDS-MHB-KABR-0316CE-01” Lara offers a jaw-dropping design incorporating the body form of a plastic bottle with a hollow circular handle/spout. Without references it stands alone as a contemporary abstract sculpture that would be comfortable in any museum setting.

Her vessel-inspired forms are elegant abstractions embracing and co-mingling the ubiquitous 2-liter plastic bottle with prehistoric wedding jars, bowls and water carriers from the Anasazi, Mimbres and Casas Grandes pottery traditions.

“LDS-MHB-WVBR-04116CE-08” by Jami Porter Lara is a beautifully crafted example of contemporary art executed through traditional techniques.
“LDS-MHB-WVBR-04116CE-08” by Jami Porter Lara is a beautifully crafted example of contemporary art executed through traditional techniques.

To achieve her Maria Martinez-inspired polished black finishes on what is a natural red clay body, Lara fires her work after stone polishing the surface, using a reduced-oxygen wood fire that prevents oxidation of the iron-rich clay. The result is a lustrous iron black.

Her designs are at once industrial and organic, and her impeccable mastery of her craft makes these objects quite seductive. Lara has harnessed the “wow factor” and isn’t letting go of the reins.

Thomas is an artist/architect like the late Robert Walters, whose creative efforts move between designs for buildings and the painter’s studio. His outstanding palimpsest surfaces are achieved through layering and sanding smooth scraps of paper ranging from newspaper to canceled checks and junk mailers. Over the haphazard albeit lusciously variegated paper surface, Thomas draws and paints highly structured geometric – one would say architectonic – patterns.

And yet Thomas is not satisfied with the resulting imagery until he sands and retouches the painted areas until they too have been antiqued and have taken on the character of an ancient sacred manuscript.

Only then does Thomas finish the job with a clear varnish that intensifies the pale and bold colors alike.

“SG050, 2014” by J. Matthew Thomas has the look of a digital photograph of leaves in sunlight enlarged enough to become pixelated.
“SG050, 2014” by J. Matthew Thomas has the look of a digital photograph of leaves in sunlight enlarged enough to become pixelated.

One beautiful example titled “SG951, 2014” allowed Thomas to truly integrate the aesthetics of fine art and architecture. The black-, white- and yellow-colored geometric pattern visually shifts between flat graphics and relief sculpture.

In “SG050, 2014” Thomas achieves a fluid organic image that feels like sunlight filtering through leaves in a light breeze. It has the look of a digital photo that has been enlarged enough to become pixelated.

Both of these beautifully integrated and compatible solo exhibitions are well-worth the climb from street level. This gallery stands up among the best in New Mexico.

Home » Entertainment » Arts » Second-floor exhibits showcase some of New Mexico’s best


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
New immersive experience lets eventgoers interact with the legendary ...
Arts
The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum saw an ... The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum saw an opportunity to work with Albuquerque-based Electric Playhouse to create 'Music For The Eyes: A New Georgia O'Keeffe Experience
2
Historic locomotive Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe 2926 almost ...
Arts
The AT&SF 2926 was built in ... The AT&SF 2926 was built in 1944 and ran a million miles in the American Southwest before being retired to an Albuquerque park in ...
3
New Mexico town fiercely protective of its land and ...
Arts
Chilili's name is not to be ... Chilili's name is not to be confused with another small town in northern New Mexico called Chili, or the delicious condiment we put on ...
4
Eliminating mimosa seed pods can help larvae in check
Arts
Meanwhile, wondering about changing over to ... Meanwhile, wondering about changing over to winter pots? Tracey has answers!
5
'Grounded' explores the struggle between war and family
Arts
Fusion Theatre Company is staging 'Grounded' ... Fusion Theatre Company is staging 'Grounded' beginning on Friday, Oct. 7, at The Cell Theatre. The play runs on weekends through Oct. 16. 'Grounded' ...
6
'When the Dogs Stop Barking' explores the humanitarian crisis ...
Arts
Open at 516 ARTS through Dec. ... Open at 516 ARTS through Dec. 31, 'When the Dogs Stop Barking' exhibits the work of five artists exploring this humanitarian crisis spanning 1,954 ...
7
'Migratory' pairs the migration of plants and animals with ...
Arts
'Migratory,' developed by Mexico City artist ... 'Migratory,' developed by Mexico City artist Minerva Cuevas, will run at 516 ARTS through Dec. 31.
8
The third Fixed and Free Quarterly features a collection ...
Arts
Fifty-nine poets – the ... Fifty-nine poets – the majority from New Mexico – contributed the 112 poems that spice up the third and most ...
9
Via Ferrata, like the one in Telluride, are a ...
Arts
Via ferratas started in Italy during ... Via ferratas started in Italy during World War I to allow troops to pass through rugged alpine areas, the idea spread across Europe and ...