TREND Spring 2016

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Blurred Lines

W

e’ve all been there: wandering through a show, maybe slightly tipsy from too much wine, squinting at something hanging on the wall or sitting on a pedestal, and then feeling embarrassed when we ask ourselves, “But is it art?” Frank Rose doesn’t think the question is embarrassing. In fact, it served as the inspiration for form & concept, a new contemporary gallery located in the former Zane Bennett Contemporary Art space at The Railyard in Santa Fe. Its mission is to explore the boundaries between art, craft, and design, and in so doing encourage viewers to accept the blurring of lines dividing the utilitarian from the purely aesthetic. “I find it really interesting that these words—art, craft, and design—have such diverse definitions,” says Rose, who graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in photography and digital media before moving with his wife to Santa Fe in 2008. “I’ve been having fun asking people how they define them, and I love hearing their answers.” Now, thanks to his partnership with Sandy Zane, he can give that conversation a space as well as a voice. In the fall of 2015, Rose was finishing his tenure with the Currents New Media Festival following his directorship of Manitou Galleries and was looking for full-time work. Zane, a pioneer of contemporary art in Santa Fe, had recently closed her gallery and needed someone to help her sell her remaining inventory. “We discovered we had a lot in common regarding art and craft, and she also really wanted to keep the building alive,” Rose says. “So we came up with the idea to do this crazy venture.”

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Contemporary Cross-pollination

Crazy, but also timely, given that traditional definitions—art exists for its own sake, craft is purely functional—are no longer so clear cut. There are, says Rose, a growing number of artists using traditional craft materials in their work as well as a growing number of crafters beginning to show in the art arena. “That merging and fluidity between the genres is producing some really interesting work.” Form & concept will focus on showcasing contemporary artists who push the boundaries of art-versus-object, but in a framework that is less traditional commercial gallery and more educational center. While a 500-square-foot space and online presence makes up the retail portion of form & concept, its exhibitions are programmed with an eye toward merit rather than commercial viability. “The pieces will be for sale, but we won’t have price tags on the wall—we want people to engage with the work without wondering about the cost.” Rose is also planning a series of workshops and artist talks that focus on the intertwining of art, craft, and design and on making the resulting work more understandable to the average viewer. “Art is often placed on a pedestal, so to speak, out of reach,” Rose says. “I think institutions should work to make it more accessible. A lot of art can appear opaque, but given the tools and education, viewers can begin to grasp it.” You can see for yourself during the gallery’s inaugural exhibitions. Made in the Desert, a group show running May 27 through August 22, features craft artists from New Mexico and Arizona. Virtual Object, which runs from June 10 through August 11, showcases artwork that is made with or influenced by emerging 3-D printing technologies. —Rena Distasio

Keeley Haftner, Industrial Compost (2015), light table and 3-D printed PLA plastic. Left: Jenny Filipetti, Breath Vessels (2015), 3-D printed ceramic. Top: Vanessa Michel, Madruga in Mourning (2014–2015), hand-sewn quilt.

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TREND Spring 2016

COURTESY OF FORM & CONCEPT (3)

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