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Showcase features N.M. artists

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — More than 1,000 pieces of art were submitted by 279 New Mexico-based artists. Of those, 80 artists were chosen to participate in the “New Mexico Showcase” at 516 ARTS.

The exhibition begins on Saturday, Feb. 4, and runs through April 28.

516 ARTS Director Suzanne Sbarge says the gallery issued a call for artists for the show last summer and was impressed with how many artists responded.

If you go
WHAT: “New Mexico Showcase”
WHEN: Opening reception 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4; Gallery hours are noon-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Exhibition runs through April 28
WHERE: 516 ARTS, 516 W. Central
HOW MUCH: Free For more information, visit

“I’ve always known that there was talent in New Mexico, and I wanted to open it up to them again,” she explains. “This was a good idea for us to focus on local artists because we will be showcasing international artists later this year.”

The “New Mexico Showcase” features artists from Roswell, Cuba, Placitas, La Union, Corrales, Taos, Magdalena, Belen, Abiquiú, Torreon, Farmington, El Prado, Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

The event also is in celebration of 516 ARTS’ five-year anniversary.

“When we opened, we had an invitation-only exhibition for New Mexico residents,” she explains. “We figured after five years, we would open it up to all artists to showcase New Mexico.”

With 279 artists submitting work, juror Peter Frank had a real job ahead of him. Frank is the senior curator at the Riverside Art Museum in California and an art critic for Angeleno Magazine. He also has contributed work to the Huffington Post, LA Weekly, the Village Voice and the SoHo Weekly News.

“This is one of those juried shows, happily for me, with a self-limiting parameter, a clear and basically inviolable one,” Frank said.

He said its purpose is to sample and thus, by inference, to illustrate the substance and flavor of current artmaking in New Mexico.

“As an American art person, I have not simply a great respect, but a soft spot, for art in New Mexico,” he said in a statement. “This is one of the most artful states in the nation, after all, layered with the artistic traditions of several civilizations and blessed both with dramatic light and landscape and a tradition of tolerance and curiosity.”

Frank said as a result, he had the impulse for once to go a little beyond the passive jurying process and invite several New Mexico-based artists who are too little known in their own state to participate in the show and sit on a panel.

One of the artists who made the cut is David Koch of Albuquerque, whose piece “Tongue Twisted Soul #29” will be on display. Koch said being part of an event that showcases New Mexico artists is a big deal.

“Then you throw in that Peter Frank juried the show and it takes it to the next level,” he said. “It’s an honor to be part of such a great show with so many great artists.”

Koch says his work centers on a visual response to various circumstances and personal experiences. He said he collects images from sources, such as the Internet, and diagrams that come with consumer products.

“I then use Photoshop to combine or layer disparate elements like a monochrome field of color with shapes and linear graphics,” he explained. “My use of color, diagrams and gestural marks become the subjects of my paintings.”

Koch said this exhibit is special because it brings him back to the art space that where he first showed in Albuquerque.

“In 1992, I showed at CAFE Contemporary Art, which was housed in the same building where 516 ARTS is now,” he said. “It’s a cool thing to still be making and showing art 20 years after I showed in the first place.”

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