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Harwood Museum of Art
Taos, NM
"Taos at a Glance"©
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Harwood Museum of Art
238 Ledoux Street,
Taos, New Mexico 87571
ph 575.758.9826 | fx 575.758.1475
info@harwoodmuseum.org
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Exhibitions

Meredith Garcia: Stone Free

Divergent/Works

Events

Meredith Garcia: Stone Free
Through January 2, 2018
Gallery: Studio 238

The artist’s photographs capture the essence of the geological formations of the American Southwest - taking them out of their usual context and viewing them in a new way.

Meredith Garcia on her work:
Abstract black and white photography is my passion. As the Polish avant-garde artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski once said, “Art is an individual way of seeing rather than about rote reproduction of a collectively agreed-upon reality.” This statement embodies the core philosophy of my photographic work. In the series “Stone Free,” I exercise the abstract spirit, capturing the essence of the geological formations of the American Southwest - taking them out of their usual context and viewing them in a new way. Abstractions of stones free them from their literal content and meaning, entering into the mystery of what constitutes reality. If art consists of the emotional brain of the artist communicating with that of the viewer, then the reality is in the eye of the beholder. With my photographs, printed in my Taos darkroom, I abstract the essence of the real world while permitting the viewer to find his or her own reality within that image.

In my previous life as a neurobiologist, I spent many hours taking black and white film photomicrographs of the brain – arguably the most beautiful and complex structure in the known universe. I retired from research and photomicroscopy in 2005, but my interest in photography continued. As I no longer had access to darkroom facilities, I moved into the world of digital photography, which I initially liked but eventually found unsatisfying – it was too easy and I found I was shooting images promiscuously, without really putting much thought into composition. In the fall of 2010, I decided to break off my intense flirtation with digital images and to return to my first love, black and white film photography. Using a Nikon camera with a 50mm lens, I have looked at the real world in a different way – at reflections and shadows rather than the objects that create them, or at abstractions of larger objects, taking them out of their usual context and looking at them in a new way. I find this focus on composition to be intellectually as well as artistically rigorous, but still productive of aesthetically pleasing images. My work continues the tradition of Ansel Adams, Minor White, and Jan Gruber.

Photography is all about light – it is the physicochemical reaction between a photon of light and a grain of silver halide that permits us to capture an image on film, and to print that image on photographic paper. The obverse of light is darkness, and the interplay of shadow and light in black and white photography makes this genre unique – pure composition, without the added distraction of color. This is what initially drew me to black and white photography – the Zen quality of the images, the yin and yang, capturing the binary nature of the universe.

Similarly, shadows – and reflections – of objects transcend their literal content and meaning, entering into the mystery of what constitutes reality. In the above image pair, which is real – and which is the illusion? If art consists of one limbic system communicating with another, which I believe it does, then the reality is in the eye of the beholder. In my photographs, I strive to distill the essence of the real world while asking the viewer to find his own reality within that image.

Divergent/Works
Through January 14, 2018
Galleries: George E. Foster, Jr. Gallery of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, Peter & Madeleine Martin Gallery, Mandelman-Ribak Gallery, Caroline Lee and Bob Ellis Gallery, and Peter & Madeleine Martin Corridor

Divergent/Works is a museum-wide exhibition that features artists pursuing very different styles—sublime and humble—while subscribing to this subtending Taos aesthetic. The severe geometry and aggressive decoration of Ronald Davis’s levitating forms in large resin-fiberglass reliefs and acrylics on canvas; the lyrical abstraction of Paul Pascarella’s New Moon series; the quirky pop icons of Jami Porter Lara’s fired-clay plastic containers; the epic imagery of Sam Scott’s Thunder in the Mountains I and Deep October Mountain II. These are divergent works that converge in the unique high desert aesthetic of Taos and northern New Mexico.

“…and yet the great blue wall of the Sangre de Cristo range seems as near and as far as it had in the morning. It was as though we could not get near it … In the blue evening smoke of the two villages, Taos Pueblo and Taos looked hopelessly small and forgotten.”
(Frederic Remington, 1902)

DIVERGENT WORKS In his 1963 essay, “The American Sublime,” art critic Lawrence Alloway writes of the Abstract Expressionist recourse to the ancient critical category of the Sublime in the paintings of Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, and Mark Rothko, heralded by Newman’s 1948 essay, “The Sublime is Now.” Alloway traces their embrace of this aesthetic concept to the 18th century Romantic reprise of the Sublime’s “momentous and powerful” qualities, in which the pleasure from nature’s beauty is accompanied by a sense of awe, fear or dread, “solitude, silence, and infinity.”

The artist émigrés to Taos did not bring this notion of the sublime—they found it, rooted in the landscape and its ancient Native American and Hispanic cultures that for centuries have shaped an overarching narrative for Taos and northern New Mexico. Taos, as physical place, has been both matrix and metaphor of what became, over the course of the twentieth century, an abiding aesthetic for successive migrations of modernists. Then, as now, this mingling of sublime and humble both expressed and info rmed the critical issues that each generation of artists brought to the region. This distinct sense of place—a paradox of high and low styles—grounds the historically diverse artistic styles and cultural currents evolved over an entire century of Taos art, providing the aesthetic continuity of the wide range of works in the Harwood collections.

Divergent Works features artists pursuing very different styles—sublime and humble—while subscribing to this subtending Taos aesthetic. The severe geometry and aggressive decoration of Ronald Davis’s levitating forms in large resin-fiberglass reliefs and acrylics on canvas; the lyrical abstraction of Paul Pascarella’s New Moon series; the quirky pop icons of Jami Porter Lara’s fired-clay plastic containers; the epic imagery of Sam Scott’s Thunder in the Mountains I and Deep October Mountain II. These are divergent works that converge in the unique high desert aesthetic of Taos and northern New Mexico.

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