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Exhibit series gives both guest curators and emerging artists a chance to shine

SANTA FE, N.M. — Art collectives that have sprung up around Santa Fe out of frustration over trying to have their works seen by the public are getting a significant chance for exposure with a series of exhibitions planned at the David Richards Gallery.

Called The Santa Fe Art Project, the series of two-week exhibitions, with the first opening tonight, will showcase works curated by individuals from some of the city’s collectives in tandem with showings of aesthetically harmonious pieces curated by the gallery itself. The concurrent exhibitions will fill the entire gallery space, with more than 50 artists showing their works during the six-week span, said David Eichholtz, principal and partner in the gallery.

“Things have gotten really dynamic here in the contemporary art scene over the last three or four years,” he said of Santa Fe. “While there’s been a lot of creative energy flowing, some of the work that is edgy and ground-breaking hasn’t really found a niche in the local gallery scene, so artists have formed collectives to either open their own spaces or conduct pop-up shows elsewhere.

“We felt we needed a way for these artists to have an ability to show here,” Eichholtz said, adding that such exposure would help “promote and sustain the creative arts scene here.”

All of the shows in The Santa Fe Art Project include a range of works, such as paintings, sculpture, new media, video, ceramics and works in resin, he said. The exhibitions will display the breadth and depth of work being done in Santa Fe by artists from a wide range of ages, some already known, others just emerging to public attention.

Programming such as lectures, discussions, guided tours and studio visits will be tied in with the exhibitions.

“I’m very excited about this project,” he said.

It also offers experience and exposure to curators who are assembling the works for the exhibitions.

“The curators will have their chance to shine,” Eichholtz said, adding that he placed no limitations on them except that they not bring large installation pieces. “We wanted things collectors could actually buy,” he said, while adding that the gallery does plan to show a major installation project next year.

The first show, “Basins,” is curated by John McKissick of Radical Abacus, which has exhibited visual arts and hosted concerts at its own space at 1226-d Calle de Comercio in the Siler-Rufina district.

“Women’s Work,” which opens Sept. 30, is curated by Jennifer Joseph and Chris Collins of the Santa Fe Collective. That group had a gallery on Hickox Street, but recently closed it, Eichholtz said.

Finally, “Outer Local,” opening Oct. 21, is curated by Sandra Wang and Crockett Bodelson of SCUBA; they have had their work shown in contemporary arts spaces around the city, including the Center for Contemporary Arts and SITE Santa Fe.

Strangers Collective initially was slated for inclusion, but its upcoming projects already were keeping its organizers busy, Eichholtz said.

He said he hopes to make The Santa Fe Art Project an annual event. “We’re hoping it expands, and that other people pick it up.”

When the David Richards Gallery left the Railyard area last year and reopened with the cheaper rents and wide-open parking lots on Pacheco Street, “we realized this was the perfect platform to introduce local artists we really like,” he said. Guest curators, for their part, “can present people we don’t know yet,” Eichholtz added.

“It can also put a spotlight on Santa Fe and make people realize there’s a lot going on here,” he continued. “We are really trying to let people know about all the great contemporary things happening here.”

That could help draw more collectors, curators, art historians and writers to the city, who then could spread word about what they’ve seen, perhaps leading to requests for work from local artists to be included in exhibitions around the country. An artist needs to sell works nationally and even internationally to survive, he said.

“There’s a lot of talk about the creative economy here and whether artists can afford to live here,” Eichholtz said, referring to the live/work spaces planned for construction on Siler Road. “But there’s not enough emphasis on how to sell their work so artists can stay here.”

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