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Exhibit: ‘Dealing in an artist’s practice’

SANTA FE, N.M. — The bad news for art lovers peering down the road for events in the new year is that the New Mexico Museum of Art will be closed for renovations for a couple of months in the fall. The good news is that it’s bringing in a landmark international art exhibit before that.

“Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to Now,” an exhibit of sketches and more that show how artists plan an artwork, will come to the museum in late May and remain on exhibit until the building shuts down for renovations in mid-September, said museum director Mary Kershaw.

Santa Fe is one of only two U.S. stops for the exhibit, which has been put together by the British Museum from its collection of prints, drawings and other works, she said.

The theme of the exhibit is particularly suited to Santa Fe’s large population of artists, she said, because it focuses on showing how the idea for an artwork takes root and blooms.

“It is arranged to show how artists use drawings in their process,” Kershaw said, noting that it’s something artists through the ages have done. “All the ‘majors’ are there,” she said of artists included in the show, who are shown working through various stages of their ideas.

“It’s dealing in an artist’s practice,” she said.

When the Museum of Art showed “Renaissance to Goya: Prints and Drawings from Spain,” another exhibit that originated with the British Museum, in 2013-14, Kershaw said that a good part of the audience consisted of practicing artists who made repeated visits to examine the artworks and relate them to their own practice, something this upcoming exhibit also can provide.

“It’s like a conversation through the centuries between artists,” she said. “That kind of exhibition is a really great one.”

Visitors’ voices

In another project the museum hopes to launch this year, locals and visitors will have a chance to create a record of their own conversations. As part of its centennial celebration, it will be looking for people to share their personal memories of the museum, events that took place there and influences it may have had on their lives.

“Miguel Gandert talks about how coming here inspired him to be an artist,” said Kershaw, referring to the EspaƱola-born photographer.

And Albuquerque born and raised Robert Williams, who founded Juxtapoz Magazine and had a recent one-man show at the Center for Contemporary Arts, has said that a painting at the Museum of Art, “The Stoic” by Joseph Henry Sharp, was what made him want to be an artist, according to Rebecca Aubin, the museum’s head of education and visitor experience.

“Capturing those stories is a really fun and significant thing to do,” Kershaw said.

Local collaboration

Just as the museum is working with the British Museum to bring in its exhibit, collaboration with others will be key into the future, according to Kershaw.

This past year, local museums came together to stage aspects of exhibitions about lowriders in New Mexico, modernism in art and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lloyd Kiva New, designer and a founder of the Institute of American Indian Arts here.

“There is much more collaborative support among the institutions in Santa Fe,” Kewshaw said, adding that that wasn’t always the case. “I see that only continuing and growing stronger.”

“I think it’s a national trend,” Aubin added.

And Kershaw is looking beyond our borders to draw upon the Spanish heritage of the state.

“One of my ambitions is to bring in strong Spanish art on a regular basis,” she said. “I’d like to build partnerships (with museums and others) in Spain, Mexico and other Latin American countries to bring in world-class art.”