March 10, 2011
Santa Fe Reporter, 03/10/2011

Santa Fe Reporter, 03/10/2011

AKA Zen unminimalizes itself

Crazed on caffeine, mired in deadlines and armed with enough power cords to make rash decisions, a personal relationship with Zen escapes me. Conceptually, on the other hand, and very basically, it proffers wisdom through meditation. By extension, it incorporates clean lines and a clear mind. In AKA Zen, David Richard Contemporary co-owner and the show’s curator David Eichholtz has assembled such a vast collection of Zen (“not a strict Buddhist reading,” he tells SFR), it almost overpowers the simplicity of the concept behind i–almost.

The show is brimmed by works in numerous mediums, by nearly 20 artists and from multiple time periods. Indeed, the show accesses the philosophy in four ways–Zen, mediation, nature, and minimal and reductive forms–and sprawls over four rooms. The interpretation is nothing if not thorough. But can there be too much Zen? That’s not to question the content, which gracefully fits the conceit and, when viewed, two by two or even room by room, also fits elegantly with the others.

The astounding array boasts myriad blockbusters (perhaps a word having less to do with exploding and more to do with profound understanding of how not to do so would be better).

Meris Barreto’s works, located in the front Zen room, most clearly invoke traditional Zen design: simplistic and sating, with clean lines and cool colors. In “Free Flow,” a banana leaf of cast glass rests atop a sleek H-shaped metal structure. For the reception, Barreto rested snowballs plugged with metal, movable type on the piece. As the snow melted, the letters scattered at random for one to create words (Boggle for the Buddhist set). Made of the same general materials, her “Run and Hit” is a series of 10 square, green glass panels banded together with metal. On one side, an extended haiku describes Barreto as a schoolkid being hit by a car (“It was bad timing/Me running home after school/Looking left not right/Autumn glare and Ford Fairlane/Bones remember forever”). A metal BB, inexplicably lodged in one of the panes, sends a shatter pattern through the others. This doesn’t seem very Zen, but the artist’s statement says it represents a Buddhist slogan about life’s randomness (“‘Life is living us’”).

The work of Merion Estes, located in the meditation room, plays out like an acceptable update on Katsushika Hokusai’s iconic 1800s woodblock print “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa.” Estes’ collage and photo-transfer pieces depict implacable meldings of familiar landscapes, with vivid texture and a dreamscape color scheme. Neon-colored minimalist shapes act as meditative focal points in the works’ centers.

Located in the far, nature room, “Natsu no Owari (End of Summer)” and the adjacent “Zenkou (Afterglow),” recently made by Harue Shimomoto, are fused-glass pieces hung in staggered clusters from stainless steel wire. The result is something like Counter Culture’s haystack fries that forgo the grease for glass–and bear the ensuing clarity of body. The sherbet-colored waffles en masse create a spindly bloom, light and clean like the tendrils of a dewy flower.

Next to these works, Leon Berkowitz’ “Chanakuh #3” is a complementary take on the same palette. Simultaneously shiny from a distance and imperceptibly rough as a pear’s skin up close, the oil on canvas could be the closest approximation of a Santa Fe sunset (which I hear has inspired a lot of Zen), were it of one.

Room by room, the works in AKA Zen are singular paradigms of Zen, and are largely beautifully executed and wonderfully selected. All together, the sheer number of styles, sentiments and pieces can be overwhelming. But too much Zen is probably better than too much coffee any day.

Santa Fe Reporter, 03/10/2011

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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