Taos artist featured in Museum of New Mexico show

Late Taos woodcarver Patrociño Barela is among those in 'Carved & Cast'

By Tempo staff
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 5/15/19

Works by the late Taos woodcarver Patrociño Barela are among those in the New Mexico Museum of Art's latest sculpture exhibition, "Carved & Cast: 20th-Century New Mexican …

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Taos artist featured in Museum of New Mexico show

Late Taos woodcarver Patrociño Barela is among those in 'Carved & Cast'

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Works by the late Taos woodcarver Patrociño Barela are among those in the New Mexico Museum of Art's latest sculpture exhibition, "Carved & Cast: 20th-Century New Mexican Sculpture," which is on view now through July 28. The exhibition takes a look at regional sculpture styles specific to the Southwest, centering the medium in its own conversation about innovation and craft, a museum statement reads.

Twentieth-century New Mexican sculptors employed a variety of methods and materials that have been used for centuries, yet regional artists diversified the genre. "Carved & Cast" features sculptors of the 20th century who drew inspiration from New Mexico's bouquet of cultures. The exhibition delves into the artists' practices, each imbued with political and social elements, setting them apart from their peers. Works on view highlight the various influences within metal, wood, and stone works as compared to international aesthetics.

Barela, for instance, created santos, religious figures carved from wood -- a frequent practice among Depression-era carving artists in New Mexico with roots in colonial religious art. Barela's composition set him apart as he allowed the wood to dictate form resulting in abstracted figures. His work gained national attention when it exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art's 1936 exhibition "New Horizons in American Art."

Additionally, Pennsylvania-born artist, Agnes C. Sims, created a breadth of work that married cubist formal styles and Native subject matter. Her work exemplifies the exhibition's curatorial aim, as she garnered inspiration from local artistic histories while engaging with international artistic trends such as Cubism. Her sculptural work on view reflects New Mexican cultural history, drawing inspiration from Native dances and Hispanic woodcarvings.

Eugenie Shonnard, an artist who trained with European masters, sculpted busts and forms from her love of New Mexican diversity. An innovator by nature, she developed her own sculptural material of lightweight cement she called Keenstone while also working in a variety of techniques popularized in the 20th century. Having first visited New Mexico at the invitation of anthropologist Edgar Lee Hewett, founder of the Museum of New Mexico, she returned to make Santa Fe her home. It is there she produced busts of Native people and commissioned many religious sculptures for churches and chapels.

Una Hanbury, known for sculpting portraits of famous women, crafted the bust of Santa Fe midcentury icon Georgia O'Keeffe. When asked about her work, Hanbury replied that she only created busts of people she liked and made efforts to create their likenesses after getting to know her subjects personally. Throughout her career, she also generated works centered on wildlife from the Southwest and became the only living sculptor to exhibit multiple works of art in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., during her lifetime.

Fritz Scholder, a registered member of the Luiseño tribe, toes the line between realism and abstraction within sculpture. Having been influenced by impressionistic artists, Scholder's work details the process as much as the subject itself. Works on view exhibit exaggeration and distortion, simultaneously described as morbid and whimsical. In addition to his sculpture work, Scholder was an avid collector of Egyptian artifacts, bringing international influence to his work. His work was often exhibited in Taos at the Tally Richards Gallery of Contemporary Art.

As other 20th-century visual media gained traction among international audiences, sculpture had not been similarly featured as a premier art form, the museum release continues. Yet, in the global context, Southwestern -- primarily New Mexican -- sculpture presents its own distinct artistry. "Carved & Cast" pulls sculptures from its own collection to highlight regional skill within the genre.

The New Mexico Museum of Art is located at 107 West Palace Avenue in Santa Fe. Admission is $12; $7 for New Mexico residents. For more information, call (505) 476-5072 or visit nmartmuseum.org.

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