SANTA FE, N. Mex. — Sometimes modesty is a good thing, even in today’s art world.
So it goes for Carried Impressions: Lithographs and Monoprints from the 1960s, an understated exhibition of works by Garo Antreasian (1922–2018) and Phyllis Sloane (1921–2009). The two artists carved out substantial careers for themselves, beyond the Modern art era, in New Mexico. A mere 12 prints on view at Gerald Peters Contemporary, installed in a small partitioned exhibition space in the rear of the building, quietly assert the important role of printing in each artist’s creative development.
I typically gravitate toward these kinds of shows — the ones that don’t demand the spotlight, that typically result from a niche interest, an a-ha moment ripe for exploration. Carried Impressions materialized because gallery curator Evan Feldman recognized how these two artists, vastly different in approach and execution, were on parallel tracks, each using a regionally favored medium that lends itself to repetition as a truly unique endeavor.
Antreasian’s work is well-known, at least in printmaking circles, given his somewhat legendary status as founder of Tamarind Institute and art educator at the University of New Mexico. Encountering Sloane’s work illuminated a gap in my knowledge of local artists, yet her imagery and mark making felt somehow familiar, probably because of her subtle, abstracted references to recognizable objects and contexts. As a printmaker, painter, and watercolor artist, she initially engaged with abstraction, ultimately discarding it in favor of representation, hints of which can be seen in “Untitled (Orange Bird Shape on Red)” and “Untitled (Figure in Boat, Gray on Black),” both from 1962. The flat and muddy visual characteristics of these prints came into sharp focus in 1965 when she turned her attention to bright colors, forced perspectives, and the crisp, clean lines of geometric patterns to depict still lifes and figures. Antreasian, on the other hand, continued to pursue abstraction, embracing its hard-edged nature, with elements of his developing signature style indicated by the embossment and textured columnar shapes — even including the color palette — of his Tokens (1961) series.
Both artists — one self-taught by absorbing visual information from the world around her, working diligently in her home studio; the other committed to furthering technique and training on a national scale — went on to establish themselves as leaders in their circles. Carried Impressions is a gentle reminder that influence is relative, and transfers accordingly well into the future.
Carried Impressions: Lithographs and Monoprints from the 1960s continues at Gerald Peters Contemporary (1011 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, New Mexico) through March 18. The exhibition was curated by Evan Feldman.
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