This photo was generated by AI on 123rf.com
You've heard that "curiosity killed the cat" but more often than not I find that curiosity leads to discovery, learning, and fun!
Case in point: this weekend I attended "Art Santa Fe" for the very first time. In all honesty I had little idea what it was but the New Mexico Women in the Arts organized a private tour and I signed up.
It turns out that Art Santa Fe is a boutique art fair featuring 60 leading international galleries and emerging or established artists. Artists submit an application to participate and if selected they pay between $3,000-$7,000 for a booth.
As I wandered the aisles looking at art I was a little like the kitten in the photo above--my eyes were big to take everything in and I felt and a little shy.
2D art, sculptures, textiles ranging from abstracts to photographs were for sale. I took my time and wandered but made sure I didn't miss a booth. My first impression was that whereas it was overwhelming it was also a tad unimpressive.
Somehow I didn't see what art that I thought was unique or singular or even technically difficult. It looked like a collection of mostly abstract randomness.
However, there were a few items that caught my attention:
First, the booth by Save the Chimps featured large canvases primed in the colors of three B52s album covers. Chimps were then given paint corresponding to the color theme of the albums and painted whatever they wanted. According to the guy I talked to about 10% of the chimps at the Florida sanctuary are interested in art.
Interestingly according to the National Endowment for the Arts, Office of Research & Analysis and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021), there are 2.6 million artists in the U.S. workforce—just 1.6% of all workers. It looks like the chimps have us beat there. 😊
Secondly, Ruth Andre's figurative abstract paintings of Natives were interesting in both the choice of color pallet and composition. Personally I struggle to have loose yet confident strokes and to use simple shapes so her paintings caught my eye.
And lastly this sculpture titled "Smells Like Bullshit" made me laugh.
But it wasn't until the NMWITA tour that I really saw the magic of the fair.
The key was in taking time to TALK with artists.
Linda Mariano (below) is the managing director of marketing at Redwood Art Group (the fair's organizer) and she introduced us to several artists, telling us what was unique about their art. The artist would then talk and take questions.
I'm so glad I made my zine "How to Talk to Artists" because it gave me a foundation of really good questions to ask. In fact I was complimented by artists and other tour participants on my questions!
Being curious about the artist's process, their medium, construction techniques, and what they are looking forward to doing next led to great conversations and gave me more insight into their artwork.
For example, Jason Robert griEGO makes sculptures that seem to combine Native and Steampunk elements. I had simply walked by earlier in the day but after hearing about his technique I took a second look. He uses a mixture of bone, resin and natural pigments with a fiery casting method to create an organic patina for each piece.
The moral to this story is to be CURIOUS...
and take time to TALK to artists. ❤️