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Talent always shines through, even in the toughest of times

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — This has been an exciting year, proving that difficult times do not diminish great talent.

The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History unveiled a portion of its hidden treasure with “Hispanic Traditional Arts of New Mexico” through Jan. 8. The show clusters work by material and theme, allowing viewers to see the artistic individuality that supports canonized traditions.

The University of New Mexico Museum of Art also supported individual expression with “Roadcut: The Architecture of Antoine Predock,” a stunning retrospective that included a drawings and models section by Predock. The museum also showed “Dead Leg” by Welsh sculptor Richard Deacon. Both shows celebrated impeccable craftsmanship.

The recently relocated and renovated Tamarind Institute of Lithography showcased “Fast Forward: Four for the Future” in the lovely June Wayne Gallery. The inspiring multimedia exhibit included Anna Hepler, Fay Wu, Mark Licari and Ethan Murrow.

City-supported venues including the South Broadway Cultural Center and the KiMo Theatre Art Gallery had strong exhibitions curated by Augustine Romero. The SBCC featured “Gamut” with Russell Adams, Kim Arthun, Claudia Baragiola and Felice Lucero, a show that pleasingly balanced abstraction with realism.

The KiMo hosted “Faces and Places” with Oscar Lozoya, Jessica Lozoya and Derrick Montez. The photography and paintings show featured a portrait series by Montez of internationally renowned architectural phenomenon Bart Prince.

A weekend visit to Roswell brought us “A Painter’s Progress,” a cross section of works by British/American visionary Peter Rogers at the Roswell Museum and Art Center through Jan. 29. The showcase, curated by sculptor Andrew Cecil, features stunning drawings and murals exploring Rogers’ journey through Great Britain, Europe and the American Southwest in search of his inner voice.

516 ARTS had a banner year that ended with “Superheroes: Icons of Good, Evil and Everything in Between” through Jan. 7, with works in a variety of media by 24 artists. The dazzling exhibit included local projects and international installations that seamlessly revealed the impressive quality of our contemporary New Mexico artists, many of whom live and work in Albuquerque.

Several new venues opened this year, including the beautiful 1629 Club at the Casa Rondeña Winery that featured “The Mergatroids come to Casa Rondeña! The Fantastical Art of Santiago Perez,” curated by Joshua Franco. The Los Ranchos Agri-Nature Center also opened, hosting a “50-Year Retrospective” by Corrales artist Carmine DeVivi, and The Stranger Factory opened to feature pop surrealist Kathy Olivas and many other nationally known artists. The Stranger Factory operates locally with a bricks-and-mortar location as well as internationally in cyberspace and through art fairs.

The Richard Levy Gallery follows a similar pattern through arts fairs attendance and Internet networking. For local consumption the gallery offered a series of shows including “Serious Play” with Jeff Kellar and Emi Ozawa, an entertaining installation of low-relief and three-dimensional kinetic sculpture and drawings.

Some galleries like Exhibit 208 just plan to break even. Co-founders Kim Arthun and Russell Hamilton have found breaking even to be a good formula that attracts great talent. Lucy Maki’s “Selected Paintings and Constructions” was a stunning show by a major New Mexico artist, as was “New Work” by sculptor Gary Wellman, who transformed wood and bronze into floating liquids.

The late writer/photographer Douglas Kent Hall’s “Precious Metal” at the Albuquerque Photographers’ Gallery was stunning, as was “Black and White at 3 a.m.” by painter/photographer David Hines at the Central Photography Gallery.

Storytelling-inspired photographer Pat Berrett and painter Molly Geissman presented at 105 Art Gallery with “Doing Time: Art in the Aftermath,” a poignant study of the Old New Mexico State Prison.

Triple Oscar winner Bill Tondreau shared his love of Albuquerque through breathtaking panoramic photographs at the Sumner and Dene Gallery. The gallery also featured painters Angus Macpherson, Iva Morris, Frank McCulloch, Jeannie Sellmer and others while celebrating owner Roy Johnson’s 30th year in business.

Palette Contemporary Art and Craft hosted several bold shows, including “Jon’s Turn,” sculptural wood turnings by Jon Garcia, and “Viennese Modernist Sculpture” by Carl Aubock, Franz Hagenauer and Karl Hagenauer. It’s nice to see beautiful work in a beautiful space.

The Weems Galleries featured “Traditional Smoke Fired and Stone Polished Ceramic Sculpture” by Laguna artist Andrew Rodriguez. His dreamlike bas-relief work stimulates the imagination.

Group efforts were showcased in “Book of Seasons: A Year of Woodblock Prints and Poems” by 17 area artists at the Weyrich Gallery, which also featured porcelain by Kathryne Cyman and her Arita pottery students.

Pop post-modernist David Koch showed at Matrix Fine Art with his “Fit/Misfit: Paintings” exhibit. Next door the New Grounds Gallery showed “Artists of Dialectical Fusion: Serigraphs from India.” Both shows were visual knockouts.