recent critical mass of arts activity in Downtown (with
the "Transitions" opening, the National Poetry
Slam, and OFFCenter's Folk Festival) brought our city's
core alive with excitement about the arts. I repeatedly
heard the exclamation "Albuquerque is the coolest place
true that Albuquerque's art market is extremely skeletal
at best; however, the local art scene is rich and varied.
Contemporary art is about communication and is meant to
spark dialogue. Questioning and critical thought are necessary
to developing Albuquerque's artistic identity and place
in the larger art world.
Pulkka's reaction to "Transitions", like all reactions
to contemporary art, is his personal opinion. Here is another
valid opinion: "This exhibition is much more in line
with what's going on in the world than past exhibitions;
it's cutting edge and looking forward. It's more in the
spirit of contemporary art than anything I've seen here
in a long time. We're proud to be next door to this show."
(Viviette Hunt, Director, Richard Levy Gallery)
has been a true honor to work with juror Laura Steward Heon,
the new director of SITE Santa Fe, whose luminous vision
offers a generous breath of curatorial fresh air to Albuquerque.
think the "Transitions" show is fabulous. You
feel the voice of one person as opposed to a committee.
This exhibition is much more in line with what's going on
in the world than past exhibitions - cutting edge, and looking
forward. It's more in the spirit of contemporary art than
anything I've seen here in a long time. We're proud to be
next door to this show.
-- Viviette Hunt, Director, Richard Levy Gallery
the Journal Editor;
I was saddened by Wesley Pulkka's review of the "Transitions"
exhibition in the Arts Section of 8/14. This exhibition
is important in the big picture for reasons above and beyond
its content. It is re-activating excitement about local
contemporary art after the loss of our city's former leader
of contemporary art (Magnifico). It is forging a new relationship
for Albuquerque artists with an esteemed curator of national
and international stature who is new to the state. And,
it is bringing normally marginalized contemporary art into
the forefront by showing it in a museum-style venue with
a published catalog.
exhibition resulted from the tireless efforts of many people
whose work deserves both honor and recognition. The artists,
the organizers, and the supporters of this exhibition deserve
far better than this review, which is riddled with blatant
errors and oddly full of inconsequential negativity about
Albuquerque art in general.
review was both careless and shoddy. For example, Santos
Contreras is the name of an extremely interesting artist,
not a title of a piece by another artist in the show. Santos's
piece is called "Beauty: Anguish". Mr. Pulkka misconstrued
the comments of the show's juror, Laura Steward Heon, as
recorded in an interview I conducted and wrote for the catalog.
There was no intent on her part to slight abstract artists;
what she said was that the work they submitted could have
constituted another show. No one could be more open to art
from outside of urban centers than Ms. Heon. In my interview
she expressed deep and sincere regard for the work of New
Mexican artists in general and those from Albuquerque specifically.
She expressed her pleasure in the quality of the work she
saw many times in the course of the interview.
is, instead, Mr. Pulka who reveals his own prejudice against
artists in this city to a shocking extent in comment after
comment in this review. He does not seem to realize that
his personal likes and dislikes are of no consequence in
the context of a Journal review.
job of a journalist requires some evenhandedness, the ability
to transcend personal preferences as well as an attempt
to get the information right. If Mr. Pulka is too jaded
to write about the "art scene" in Albuquerque, he should
quit writing. If he is no longer able to support what goes
on here with the degree of support and enthusiasm it deserves,
he should not be writing for the Journal. As it currently
stands, he does a disservice to the community of artists
as well as to the art audience who deserve better and less-biased
Kathleen Whitney, Contributing Editor, Sculpture Magazine
you for taking the initiative and voicing an opinion about
Wesley Pulka's cynical and pompous review of Transitions.
I really enjoyed the show, and think that the artists all
have something important to say, and will continue to do
so - whether Wesley thinks they will survive as artists
with kids, jobs, etc or not. That was the statement that
annoyed me the most.... How unfortunate for our community.
-- Mary Antonia Wood
went to the Transitions exhibition. It was reinforcing.
It is here. There are some real art makers and the exhibition
makes that clear. Wesley's point that the exhibition is
uneven and that the works would be lost in any contemporary
collection around the world is fatuous and really beside
the point. The work is not uneven. Diverse structurally
but each piece was carefully constructed with professional
artistry. If I have anything to complain about it's that.
That the work is too careful. Too painstakingly put together.
But maybe that comes from my old 50s posture when abstract
expressionism was all about the angst and sloppiness of
spattered paint and spattered poetics and spattered artists.
Still. I would have loved to have seen something a little
bit almost there. These people are good. Already there.
And good for Laura Heon for seeing the congruities. I don't
know whether I would have curated with her eye but she did
a damn good job. And the work is created from and of what
the artists are seeing in our Albuquerque despite whatever
Pulkka wants to pull in about outside influence. So it is
transformative for the viewer. It gives back. It mirrors.
It is something for us. It is not art for art's sake, for
goodness sake. Did I say I liked it? I really did and was
-- Sarah Moody
Pulkka's review of the Transitions show in Sunday's ABQ
Journal sparked a spirited discussion.... The review is
fairly lukewarm, but what caught my attention was a quote
from Richard Levy (Richard Levy Gallery) that Albuquerque
'has no art scene'. While I would not go that far, and I
am certainly not an expert, I think he is on to something.
does seem to have a good 'craft' scene; potters, jewelers,
weavers etc. who all seem to do quite well. Take them out
of the equation (some would say unfairly) and in my opinion
the picture becomes more muddled. Certainly there are some
artists here doing varied, interesting work that does not
involve silver, turquoise or kachina dolls but does that
make an art scene? The fact that Magnifico withered and
died while Weems Artfest thrives to me speaks volumes.
ABQ Arts ever thought about (or done) a piece on what makes
an art 'scene' and how does Albuquerque measure up? I realize
that this is a highly subjective question, but it should
make for interesting debate and discussion.
Donald Pizzolato (to ABQarts Magazine)
an artist who lives downtown and I know several artists
in the Transitions show and I loved it! Just a wonderful
selection of the Abq Art Scene! This is a cross-section
of us! We are not New York or other art meccas around the
world. We are sometimes unrefined, folksy, whimsical, raw
and always real! We are always creating, evolving and unpretentious.
God bless us all and keep us humble, true and visionary!
think you misinterpreted Richard Levy's remarks - it's not
the artists who are lacking - it's the people willing to
support them financially. People like Richard Levy, Peter
Eller, and most of our well-known artists can't make a living
in Albuquerque - most of their business comes from out of
state. Albuquerque has a reputation for not supporting the
arts - particularly when it comes to contemporary art.
scarier -- where is the next generation of art buyers and
theatre patrons going to come from? We no longer have art
in our schools (for the most part), many lovely new homes
I visit have no art (no books either!!!). Somehow we have
disconnected art from community despite an inherent need
to "make nice" (as anthropologists call it) that
is as old as mankind.
-- Joan Fenicle
think Joan is correct. When Richard speaks about there not
being an 'art scene' in Albuquerque, he's referring to the
buzz that is created by hundreds of people who congregate
and talk about and buy art. (He's not talking about the
abundance of great artists who live and hang out in Albq
... many of whom he has represented.) We see the same stalwarts
at most art openings. One question is, how do we get the
people in some of Albq's fabulous houses to look at and
buy art here? When we have shows at Artspace 116 (for artists
we love who do not have gallery representation), we have
been thrilled to see some new, curious, faces. I don't know
the answer, but we are trying to invite folks from every
one of the facets of our lives and hope the word spreads.
-- Pamela Michaelis
have no idea if and when I might have said that. I've talked
to Wes Pulkka for years about all different sorts of issues.
We have at times discussed how we do business in cities
all over the country and world, and the importance of art
fairs to us. That kind of comment could have come from that
kind of discussion. Our last conversation was about Tom
Waldron, certainly not Transitions which I haven't even
seen. I do more to support the arts in Albuquerque than
most people know, but I DO go to other cities to sell artwork.
The fact of the matter is I probably sell about 1% of my
annual sales in New Mexico. This year it may jump up a percentage
or two, but still not much support.
are times when a "mixed" review is all some shows deserve.
I haven't seen this show, but by doing this Wes will get
even more people to see the show to see if they agree or
not. All in all, it's good for the arts!
has come to my attention that there is some negativity being
generated around a comment in Wes Pullka's review of the
Transitions exhibition in last Sunday's Art Section of the
Albuquerque Journal. First of all, I would like to state
that Richard Levy is out of town and has been since mid-July
and therefore has yet to even see this exhibition. Furthermore,
this event was supported by a generous donation made by
Richard Levy. Without contributors like himself, exhibitions
like Transitions would never come into fruition.
Levy has quietly supported the arts for longer than most
people would have the patience for. He has enriched this
community with his vision for many years. He brings international
art to Albuquerque and certainly not for the satisfaction
of local financial support (his gallery generates a small
fraction of its sales locally). Furthermore, he brings artworks
from our community and exhibits them internationally, providing
local artists with a presence in the world.
some reason Wes Pullka chose include a comment in his review
that was made at a different time and place. It was clearly
being taken out of context. After years (13 to be exact)
of blatant unreciprocated community support, I think that
most of us would have given up.....but Richard Levy is a
better man than that......
than an anonymous phone message (from an unavailable number)
no one has called regarding this matter. No one has contacted
us to verify the authenticity or context of Richard Levy's
apparent statement. It seems a little vicious that an issue
is being made of this without anyone bothering to check
their sources. Richard Levy clearly supports and contributes
to the local art scene through his actions, his financial
support, and his gallery's exhibitions. I believe that Albuquerque's
art scene is richer because of his vast contributions.
Viviette Hunt. Director, Richard Levy Gallery
Pulkka ends his review with "a lot of the artists in
this show are young" -- I have a piece in the show
and have been making art for over forty consecutive years,
achieved two degrees in Fine Art and an overly long resume
of art activity. My piece in this exhibit was not mentioned
in the review and I was relieved lest he rebuke it as irrelevant.