Tuesday, October 17, 2000
Exhibits Give Hispanic Artists Chance to Shine
By Tracy Dingmann
Journal Staff Writer
A fierce-looking Comanche dancer arrayed in traditional feathers, leather and some untraditional sunglasses explodes out of the frame at the viewer in a series of photographs by New Mexican photographer Miguel Gandert.
The dancer is participating in a daylong festival that occurs each New Year's Day in Talpa, N.M., to honor the feast of Los Manuelas. Those who dance it are of mixed Indo-Hispano heritage, or "Hispanos paying patronage to the other half of their heritage," Gandert said.
The photo essay is part of Gandert's "Nuevo México Profundo: Rituals of an Indo-Hispano Homeland," one of three fine-art exhibits that will be featured at the opening of the National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico.
"Nuevo México Profundo" is a series of eight photographic essays that document rituals and performances dear to many New Mexicans.
In crisp black and white, Gandert recorded matachines from Alcalde, Atrisco, Bernalillo, San Antonio and Picuris Pueblo; Comanche and Comanchitos from Talpa, Ranchos de Taos, Alcalde and Alameda; and Lenten pilgrimages in Chimayó and Tomé.
Gandert, a native of Española, has been photographing social rituals for more than 20 years. His photos have been shown at the 1993 Whitney Biennial, at the 1993 Phoenix triennial and in a one-person exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.
Currently he is an associate professor of communications and journalism at the University of New Mexico.
The illustrated catalog for "Nuevo México Profundo" will include essays about issues of identity and ethnicity among Hispanics by four scholars: Enrique Lamadrid, Lucy Lippard, Ramon Gutierrez and Chris Wilson.
The second exhibition gives special attention to the Barelas neighborhood that surrounds the Hispanic Cultural Center.
"Barelas a Través de los Años: Barelas Through the Years," is a series of 125 black-and-white photographs that traces the area's history through various periods, including economic booms, floods, the arrival of Route 66, suburbanization and urban renewal. The photos also showcase military heroes, political leaders, sports stars and scholars who grew up in the Barelas area.
In addition to the photographs, the exhibition contains an interactive video that provides a virtual tour of the community.
The historical photos came from a variety of sources, including Barelas families who lent their originals so the center could make high-quality copies.
The third opening exhibit is "La Luz: Contemporary Latino Art in the United States," which showcases the diversity of Latino visual expression from across the United States and from artists of different Latin heritage.
Artists selected for the exhibit are recognized leaders in their art forms, which include video, print, photography, sculpture, painting and crafts. Sculptor Luis Jimenez of Hondo, N.M., and photographer Delilah Montoya of Albuquerque are among them.
"La Luz" is designed to stimulate much discussion about personal emotion, artistic tradition and national and cultural identity. The images are divided into six themes: social action, identity, faith, family and home, humor and pushing the art world.
The exhibit was compiled by senior curator Andrew Connors, who came to the center after 15 years as a Latino art specialist at the Smithsonian Institution.
"I was interested in showing the range of artistry across the country based on my years of experience working with Latino artists," Connors said. "I chose artists I felt were important. There are a few new discoveries, but basically I chose artists with national and international reputations."