Art

Museum celebrates Larry Bell at 80

Winter exhibits debut at the Harwood Museum, also a special announcement

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The Harwood Museum of Art kicks off its winter season this weekend with a banquet of work from four featured New Mexico artists: Larry Bell, Subhankar Banerjee, Dean Pulver and Beatrice Mandelman. The exhibits will be on view beginning Friday (Dec. 13). However, the official public opening is Sunday (Dec. 15), when the museum at 238 Ledoux Street will be open free of charge from noon until 5 p.m.

Larry Bell: Cubic Propositions -- Joyce and Sherman Scott Gallery

This centerpiece of the Harwood's winter offerings originated as a birthday tribute to Bell, who celebrated his 80th on Friday (Dec. 6). "Cubic Propositions" highlights the artist's ongoing investigation of the cube form, as it has evolved over 60 years of his studio work. Bell is known for his surface treatment of glass and explorations of light, reflection and shadow. He was recognized early on as a rising star of the Los Angeles art scene, and still maintains a California studio, but has called Taos home since 1972.

This special birthday exhibition includes the first cube Bell made in 1959, and the very latest cube produced in the studio just weeks ago.

"Larry is our neighbor and, of course, a friend of the Harwood for a long time," Harwood Director Juniper Manley said. "I love this show. They're mostly smaller scale pieces, but his play with light is evident. You see your own reflection as well as the shapes created as you walk around it. So many times artists don't get recognized in their lifetimes, but Larry has really come into international recognition now and it's great to see him succeed in that way. This show has been an effort from his studio and close friends, a very personal exhibition for Larry as a neighbor and friend."

Special announcement

As an additional commemoration of his eight decades, the Harwood announces the Larry Bell Fund for Excellence in Contemporary Art, which has recently been created with an anonymous gift to the Harwood. The fund will allow the museum to pursue initiatives related to exemplary contemporary artists. All are invited to make gifts to the fund in Bell's honor by calling the museum at (575) 758-9826, ext.116.

Subhankar Banerjee: Long Environmentalism -- Mandelman-Ribak Gallery

Subhankar Banerjee's large-scale photographs of the Alaskan Arctic and New Mexico piñon raise awareness of multispecies survival across these two contrasting environments. Banerjee's Arctic series began in 2000 with a desire to live with polar bears in the wild.

His ongoing collaboration with environmental organizations and the Gwich'in and Iñupiat communities of Arctic Alaska focus on a tradition of sustainable land use practices that are disappearing rapidly from industrialized societies. His Desert Series began in 2006 when he began to walk in a 5-mile radius around his suburban home in New Mexico. In the process, he realized that the desert ecosystem supports an incredible diversity of wildlife and has also sustained indigenous communities over many millennia.

"The 'Long Environmentalism' exhibition at the Harwood is the first time I have presented a selection of my photographs from Alaska's Arctic and the New Mexican desert together," Banerjee told us. "Aesthetically, the two bodies of work may look very different, but on closer inspection and engagement, you will realize that these two places are connected in many significant ways. People in both places are deeply tied to land. They rely on and have built complex multispecies relations with the nonhuman beings. New Mexico and Alaska are among the states that harbor the highest biological and cultural diversities in the United States. The exhibition simultaneously celebrates the ecological vitality and cultural diversity of the two deserts, while at the same time making visible the ongoing ecological crises to spark conversations."

Dean Pulver: Elemental Resonance -- Peter and Madeleine Martin Gallery

Dean Pulver is a sculptor and furniture maker working in wood. Growing up in a family of artists in Minneapolis, he was influenced by his German Irish father, a commercial illustrator, art director and painter, and his Japanese mother, a clothing designer and fiber artist. Pulver has lived and worked in Taos for more than 20 years.

Manley explained that the Harwood is currently in the final phases of selecting a new curator. "We've been team-curating in the meantime, and we were very fortunate that [former curator] J. Matt Thomas was available and willing to come back and guest-curate Dean's exhibit."

"I've known Dean for many years," Thomas said. "It was an honor to curate his incredible work. The Harwood has an opportunity to support our local emerging artists that are on the cusp. Having these solo shows sets an example of what a local museum can do to support them."

"I'm interested in making pieces that are resonate and reflective," Pulver said. "To resonate - meaning to evoke or suggest images, memories and emotions. And reflective - meaning being brought into deep thought and contemplation. I find that in using forms that are basic and elemental, there becomes an openness for the viewer to creating multireferential relationships to the pieces. Through honoring the handmade process and the traditional techniques of my medium, I strive to make pieces that are full of truth and meaning."

Beatrice Mandelman: Overflowing with Color -- George E. Foster Jr. Gallery

Late in her life, Taos Modernist Beatrice Mandelman (1912-1998) contemplated her yearslong creative journey as a professional artist, writing, "My whole world is about life and color surrounding me. Everything is overflowing with color." This exhibition of serigraphs (silkscreen prints) and color lithographs is drawn from the Harwood Museum's collection.

The selected works reveal the initial phase of Mandelman's immersion in color and form, during the period when she worked in the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

Said Manley, "In April 2020, Mandelman's work is going to be showcased in a New Mexico PBS documentary. We paired the exhibition of her wonderful, playful work with that launch."

These exhibits will be on view through April 26, 2020. For more information, call (575) 758-9826.

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