Friday, March 06, 2009
In Phoenix this weekend for the Heard Art Fair, the spring warm-up to Santa Fe Indian Market in the summer. The unwanted guest at the party is without a doubt the economy - many artists (Native and non-Native, it's fair to say) have seen flat sales for weeks, and many are showing up here with the grim hope that this weekend's buyers can pull them out of a slump. With the Dow dipping all day long on Thursday and GM stocks in the toilet it seemed unlikely, but some folks decided to just throw an opening and see who might show up.
The opening featured jewelers Pat Pruitt, his brother Chris Pruitt, and Cody Sanderson, (who incidentally was the winner of last year's Best in Show at the Heard) along with painter Marla Allison, (winner of this year's Innovation Award at Indian Market.) All three jewelers are putting out really good work - Pat Pruitt with his stainless steel pieces, Cody with his high-polish silver work, and Chris Pruitt with a really interesting body of work that features what I call traditional-contemporary hybrids (including use of gold overlay and intricate coral inlay on one ring that was just outta sight) - but the show's real stand-out were Marla Allison's paintings.
I've written a couple of pieces about Marla in the past year (one of them that hasn't been published yet) but I haven't really fallen in love with a painting with hers like I did last night. Marla is known for her pieces which combine painting-on-canvas with a video monitor attached that provides extra subtext for the painting's flat surface. In her stand-alone paintings, Marla's work features a really strong palette with lots of blues and greens, making some of her subjects feel like they're underwater. The strength in this particular painting comes (I think) from the way in which this strong palette exists as a backdrop for an equally strong foreground image (in this case, a skeleton that looks fairly anatomically correct to my eye.) To me, it's one of the most forthright images that Marla has painted that I've seen, with exception to some of her video-canvas combo pieces. (I do not yet have a .jpeg of the work, but will post one soon.)
The show was well-attended by a band of artists and collectors and scenesters like me who count as the Usual Suspects. Artist Marcus Amerman and his lady Staci Golar (the IAIA PR & Marketing honcho who without a doubt has the BEST rolodex on Native Art in Santa Fe) were there, as were artist & art scholar John Paul Rangel. I was thrilled to finally meet arts writer Aleta Ringlero, (who wrote just an incredible piece on Gregory Lomayesva last year) and also ran into this year's Santa Fe Indian Market poster artist and jeweler Maria Samora and her husband Kevin.
But the most welcome guests of the evening were without a doubt Bill & Jane Buschbaum. The ultimate Native art insiders, the Buschbaums are like everyone's favorite aunt and uncle - and they collect nearly *everyone* who's anyone, so people are always happy to see them arrive. Dressed like your grandparents, they looked awfully out of place amidst all the hipster black, but no one was looking at them for their fashion - they were merely wondering where the checkbook was atand whether or not their names would be on those checks.
Didn't manage to see any red dots by the time I left, though. Maybe I was squinting hard enough. The real news will come tonight at the Best in Show/Preview.
Posted by by gregoryp(tm) aka Gregory Pleshaw at 8:55 AM