Noël Hudson: Ornamental Abstraction
Rio Bravo Fine Art 110 North Broadway Street, Truth or Consequences
THE TRIP TO TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES BEGINS WITH A PERUSAL OF the Rio Bravo Fine Art website. The discovery of Noël
gestures of color, vibrate like exercises in dissipating the
and Bamboo in Mist) the results are sweet and serene. In
Hudson’s exhibition, Ornamental Abstraction, which fell on
muddle of the everyday. They seem to represent a clearing,
some pieces, that moment gets lost in the flurry of process
the town’s second Saturday art walk, is quickly followed
or transitional experience. In contrast, her collaged squares
and competing media.
by the wrangling up of a willing travel companion and a
offer up a sense of order and calm by collecting and holding
The artist cites influences from disparate times and places,
call to Riverbend Hot Springs to book a quiet, private soak
pattern together with organic papers and handmade prints
reflecting a wide variety of references that unite along a central
overlooking the Rio Grande.
conceptual thread. From Japanese printmaking and kimono
Truth or Consequences is no idyllic destination. It’s run
The artist’s paintings on paper and monotypes reflect
to medieval Islamic vegetal abstraction and the Nabis school
down; it’s bare bones. The sun-bleached, peeling paint that
an overriding concern for emotion and expressionistic
of Post-Impressionist painters, these influences show up in
pervades downtown rings with the city’s emptiness like a
gesture. The prints are identified in series with titles including
Hudson’s work through a driving concern for pattern, surface,
long, sighing exhale. However, underneath the fallen-on-
Refraction, Reflection, and Infusion, suggesting an alchemy
and the powerful confluence of palette, form, and texture.
hard-times crust is an eccentric hardiness and happenstance
involving explorations in spontaneity of gesture and a curiosity
charm that is relished by some, lost on others.
about the play of two-dimensional forms.
Emerging from Rio Bravo Fine Art is like leaving an oasis, but we decide to continue our newfound love of meandering,
Fortunately, my travel companion and I, like so many
More compelling is Hudson’s Fragment series of
this time in the direction of dinner. Tomorrow is filled with
who find themselves in New Mexico, prefer the gritty crunch
collages. These diminutive squares are comprised of collaged
more plans for soaking in hot springs and embracing the
of crumbling sidewalks to the click of heels on pavement, and
papers and prints, as well as prints and paintings made by
unwinding sensation incurred by this quirky place, augmented
so we are rather undeterred passing by empty storefront
the artist. On each floating panel, expressionistic gesture is
by Hudson’s world of contemplative ornament.
after empty storefront. This place does not, cannot, pretend
confronted with and tempered by pattern and fields of color.
to be anything else. This place wears its heart on its sleeve.
Each square feels like an experiment with—or meditative
For those willing to look under the skin of things, Truth or
contemplation of—the materials at hand. When the artist hits
Consequences offers a special kind of romance involving
on that alchemical moment (such as in Snowing in Moonlight
Noël Hudson, Bamboo in Mist, collage on panel, 6” x 6” [, year?]
eccentric charms and gravity. Truth and Consequences sounds more appropriate. However, in the midst of this economic slump there are distinct, buzzing points of light. Seeking them out necessitates meandering, so we meander. We leave the dusty, coffeescented shelves of Black Cat Books and Coffee with arms full of used books. At Passion Pie Cafe we order brunch: flaky croissant, fresh fruit, and the show-stopping pear, feta, and walnut waffle sandwich. The Geronimo Springs Museum offers a cobbled-together take on local history (we spend most of our time here looking at the photographs of every graduating class of Hot Springs High since 1939. We contemplate personalities, probable fates, with whom we would have gone to the prom... We soak up healing waters and sunbeams at Riverbend Hot Springs. Overlooking the Rio Grande, this rustic retreat feels like another world. A quick nap on a chaise in sun-speckled shade helps us transition back to life. Rejuvenated, we head out for the Second Saturday Art Hop. We see small groups join in on the meandering to which we’ve adapted so well, but locate most of the crowd at Rio Bravo Fine Art. The gallery, a sprawling, multilevel space, was founded by the artist Harold Joe Waldrum in 2000. The gallery has been owned and directed by Eduardo Alicea since Waldrum’s death in 2003, and represents a handful of local New Mexico artists. Several gallery artists have work on display throughout the building, including Delmas Howe, Dave Barnett, Joel Smith, and Waldrum himself. The main first-floor gallery is filled with the colorful, exuberant abstract works of Santa Fe–based artist Noël Hudson. Ranging from collage and acrylics to monoprints and monotypes, Hudson’s works capture an energetic impulse that feels of a piece with—and makes sense in—the milieu of Truth or Consequences. Her paintings, cathartic and frenetic APRIL
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THE magazine is Santa Fe New Mexico's magazine of international art, photography, culture, and restaurant dining.