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“Alcoves 16/17”
New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Review by Jon Carver

Mira Burack, “Sleep Cycle II,” 2009, collage of pigment prints, paint, fabric and wood. Courtesy the artist and Central Features Contemporary Art. Photo: Robert Hensleigh

Continuing through December 4, 2016

Spiraling in slow motion you move into the black hole of "Sleep Cycle II." This collaged mandala, composed of a repeated mundane, underexposed digital print of rumpled bed sheets, cut from their rectangular format, reads like layered black petals opening upon a deeper darkness, recalling Rilke’s description of a rose as “no one’s sleep under so many lids” and simultaneously Lao Tzu’s admonition on mystery, “to darken the darkness, that is the gate of all wonder.”

Such visual wonder is thematic in "Alcoves 16/17." the fifth of seven shows in a series that focuses on some of the region’s best, though perhaps previously under appreciated artists. Example: Mira Burack of the above-described collage, which so sublimely marries the everyday (sheets you sleep on) with the vast magnificence of the night. Below the framed collage hangs a lidless black box offering what appear to be black robes or gowns, presumably the cloak required to fully embark upon this nocturnal journey.

Opening centers, empty spaces, and strong subtleties are the hallmarks of the show. Dara Marks mark-making with watercolors on sheets of translucent polypropylene produces sparse, Gorky-esque gardens. Marks’s sinuous lines spool and eddy across iridescent surfaces, impossible to reproduce photographically. Here is a transcendent optical quality evoking Florence Pierce’s late resin-works, but grasped through greater economy of means.

Shaun Gilmore, a dancer turned sculptor, and Signe Stuart, long known in Santa Fe for elegant explorations of ethereality, explore the activation of space through linear elements. Gilmore’s free-standing sculptures twist and turn in the air, schematically defining volumes, like a 3D Brice Marden drawing, or exoskeletons of Dubuffet’s sculptural forms. Stuart’s wall reliefs in Chinese unryu paper and acrylic are mad dashes of overlapping diagonals that recall Japanese basketry, Hopi rain imagery, and diaphanous, abstracted kites.

Finally, Kelly Eckel creates etchings of black and white photo-fragments reassembled into Hans Arp-ish biomorphic figure-ground compositions. The photographic textures play against Eckel’s shapes to produce bizarre ambiguities of illusionistic depth and volume. Her work, like that of the other four women in the show, draws you into its intricacies and intimacies, rewarding discovery with the joy of wondering further.

Grocery sale and supermarket offers of Lidl Leaflet may save you a good amount.

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