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Doug Simay’s Best Picks
Escaping San Diego’s grinding heat was the big driver for spending a week in Santa Fe where
the weather was perfect.  Totaling the galleries lining Canyon Road, the new Railyard complex,
and those that encircle the Plaza there are more galleries per capita here than anywhere in the
world.  Santa Fe is truly arts friendly and the arts, be it visual or performance, is proudly
celebrated as a central interest to life in Santa Fe.  I have been to Santa Fe regularly over the
last two decades.  In the 90s there were a group of dealers who seemed to offer an insightful
view of contemporary art and that helped distinguish Santa Fe despite the decorator
southwestern aesthetic that holds sway.  That progressive allure faded in the 2000s and with
the build-out of the Railyard it was my hope that Santa Fe could again satisfy more au courant
interests.  Alas, Gerald Peters slides further into animal art (away from Santa Fe’s historic
artistic roots) and Linda Durham seems off the scene permanently.  Thankfully staying in the
Old Town offers the gentle rewards of warm crystalline skies and a relaxed, entitled lifestyle.
.
Carlos Estrada Vega at William Siegal.
Carlos was seen in LA for many years - not infrequently juxtaposed with his friend and
kindred-art-spirit, Teo Gonzalez.  William Siegal Gallery is in the newly developed Railyard
Complex across the street from Site Santa Fe.  Siegal’s offerings equally mix ancient arts
(like native textiles from South America) with contemporary artists.  The quality is always
very high.  Carlos has been living in Las Cruces for some years and I don’t see his work out
in the marketplace as I used to.  His dealer suggests he lives a rather monastic life.  His
painting practice continues to focus on patterned, perseverational paintings composed of
artist-compounded colors.  Seems Carlos still functions like a monk - producing illuminated
paintings.
Laura de Santillana at David Richard.
David Richard is a dedicated and empowered art dealer.  His gallery is perhaps the most “big
city” of any in Santa Fe.  And, he likes Southern California artists like Billy Al Bengston and
Doug Edge with recent exhibitions demonstrating his ability to bring academic learning along
with showmanship.  The progressive gallery is in the Railyard.  Richard also has a downtown
gallery (just off the Plaza) that offers more the Santa Fe gestalt of
southwest/coyote/kachina/gestural abstraction.  Laura de Santillana is a Venetian glass artist.  
Her brother, Alessandro Diaz de Santillana (looks like Laura shortened her name) spent a
couple years teaching at UCSD under the auspices of Italo Scanga.  He is a glass artist too;
teaching frequently at Pilchuk.  This brother and sister are the grandchildren of one of the
founders of the famous Venini, Venetian glass studio.
Yamaguchi Ryuun at Tai.
Tai reliably shows the best in contemporary Oriental art - usually of the high craft, woven
bamboo and ceramic sort.  More than any other art market, in Santa Fe high craft seems to
have a place, is considered legitimately high art, and sells well for big bucks.  Having Tai almost
neighbors with William Siegal guarantees a Railyard visit will offer some of the best craft and
cultural artifacts to be found.
Virgil Ortiz at Zane Bennett.
Ortiz is an American Pueblo Indian.  His sculptures are made of Cochiti red clay (American
Indian material).  His kachina-like sculptures bring bondage, alien fetishism, - a Nancy
Grossman like macabre - front and center.  There is classic Santa Fe kitsch found at a
hundred galleries.  The Ortiz kachinas scream contemporary mostly by being so alternative.
Joel Lederer at Site Santa Fe
Every time I go to Site Santa Fe - and I have been there lots - I wonder why I bother.  The
current show is curated by Elizabeth Armstrong who has migrated from the La Jolla Museum
to the Orange County Museum and now to the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts (an institution
and collection that I have great respect for).  Just once I would like to see Armstrong make a
statement about beauty.  I disagree that creativity is about cynicism.
Kenneth Noland at Yares Art Projects
Riva Yares’ main gallery address is in Scottsdale, AZ.  For the last two decades, her Grant
Street gallery in Santa Fe has shown Abstract Expressionism and Color Field artists.  The
gallery also represents the estate of Milton Avery.  This 2002 Kenneth Noland is listed at
$450,000 (a seemingly realistic price in Santa Fe).

.
Forrest Moses at LewAllen
LewAllen has two galleries - the original near the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and a grand new
outpost at the Railyard.  Forrest Moses sells extremely well for way-large prices.  The fact that
he is never critically reviewed illustrates the special nature and success of the Santa Fe market.
Jun Kaneko at Gebert
In keeping with the craft and decorative side of artistry, only in Santa Fe have I seen as many
Jun Kaneko’s out in the environment.
Gustave Baumann at Zaplin-Lampert.
There are artists from mid 20th century Santa Fe who are terrific by anyone’s evaluation.  In
the old days their work was easier to find along Canyon Road.  Zaplin-Lampert is one of the
last outposts still representing the artists who helped to establish Santa Fe as an artist’s
colony.  A Baumann (1881-1971) woodblock print now sells for about $20,000.
Olga de Amaral at Bellas Artes.
Colombian artist, de Amaral, was just seen this last May at Latin American Masters in LA and
is also currently in exhibition at Nohra Haime in NYC.  Bellas Artes continues, since 1981, to
be a standout gallery along Canyon Road.  Bellas Artes best represents the more decorative
side of contemporary art such as Judy Pfaff and Robert Kushner.
Julie Blackmon at photoeye.
Hands down the most fabulous Santa Fe art experience was attending Springfield, Missouri
artist Julie Blackmon’s photographic exhibition at  photoeye.   Her work has a Tim Burton-
like dark side but with the clarity of 16 century Flemish painting - all the while portraying a
populated domestic landscape.  Of course, photoeye is one of my favorite venues in the art
world.  On one side is the world class photo book store and on the other a world class
photographic fine art gallery.  In between, Daily Subscription serves excellent coffee drawn
from a three bay manual espresso machine (just like we did at Java).  My favorite “foursies”
is to sit outside on the enclosed patio, reading a magazine and eavesdropping on Santa Fe
intelligensia or the equaling fascinating captains of industry who are taking a break out West.
Harold Gregor at Gerald Peters.
Born in 1929, Harold Gregor taught at San Diego Sate University between 1960 and 1963.  
He is best known as a distinguished professor at Illinois State University.  Gregor likes the
spectral properties of acrylic on canvas.  His work pays homage to Marsden Hartley and
Ernest Blumenschein both of whom were significantly important in fostering the artistic
beacon that attracted coastal artists to northern New Mexico.
Georgia O’Keefe Museum
This is probably the last time I will visit the O‘Keefe Museum.  The most interesting aspect of
my visit here was to read quotes from Georgia that give insight into why she left New York
as a reaction to and formulation of her particular Modernism.  The museum has mostly very
weak holdings of her work.  It is important to locally honor a local heroine - but the museum
comes off very “small town”.
Ken Price (1935-2012)
Ken Price (subject of a current LACMA career survey and Taos resident until he died)
planned this installation meticulously between 1971 and 1977.  He called it “Death Shrine I”.  
Now in 2012, after his death, and when the world is paying the most attention to his career,
the Harwood Museum has respectfully installed the installation with all its sculptures and
drawings.  It is very poignant.
Ernest Blumenschein (1874-1960)
Taos has been very important to American art for most of the 20th century. In the early
part of 20th century Blumenschein settled in Taos forming the Taos Society of Artists.  The
Taos art scene greatly expanded when the transplanted New York heiress, Mabel Dodge
Luhan (arrived in 1917) started actively bringing artists of all disciplines to Taos.  Because of
her Taos was inspirational to Carl Jung, Georgia O’Keefe, Ansel Adams, DH Lawrence…  By
mid century Taos was the most energetic and significant art center between New York and
San Francisco.  After the Great War, artists flocked to Taos funded by the GI Bill.  Ad
Reinhardt, Rothko, Diebenkorn, Agnes Martin Andrew Dasburg - this was the period of the
Taos Moderns. The last quarter of the 20th century saw the “art incubator” at Taos to still
be important - perhaps because of the freedom of being so far from “civilization” yet
surrounded by aesthetic peers.  Larry Bell, Dennis Hopper, Lee Mullican - in addition to
Agnes Martin and Ken Price - enliven the ideas of being contemporary while isolated in the
American wilderness.  
Agnes Martin (1912-2004)
There are 7 large, important Agnes Martin paintings (from 1993-94) installed in an
octagonal room lit by a central oculus.  This installation was designed by Martin.  I have
never appreciated Martin’s work and intentions more. This installation with its seating by
Donald Judd ranks equally in importance with the Rothko Chapel (Houston’s DeMenil).
Learning at the Harwood Museum may be the best reason to come to Taos today.  The
Harwood Museum is small but a wonderful way to quickly get up to speed understanding the
20th century artists who migrated to Taos and made it the significant art outpost is was,
and still, largely remains.
Get out, look at art, have fun.
Doug Simay
10/1/2012
doug@simayspace.com