Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Master Pieces

By Jeffrey Lee

JANUARY 4, 1999:  If ARTFORUM can do it, so can we. The cream of the crop, Albuquerque's Top Ten of 1998:

1. Actolithic. The installation by graffiti artist ACT brought that colorful and transgressive medium inside for a change. The results, both on canvas and on the Harwood Art Center's cinderblock walls, were bracing.

2. Broadsided (The Harwood). Curator Jeff Bryan put together a nice mix of poetry broadsides, both local and far-flung, venerable and contemporary. Contributions from the hands of Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouac, if a little timeworn, were unforgettable.

3. Victoria Deger (The Coleman Gallery). Deger's use of unconventional equipment (mostly old amateur cameras) to produce odd negatives, and the darkroom magic to which she then subjected them, combined to make her White Sands dreamscapes among the most original and affecting photographs I've seen in New Mexico (a state where everyone and his brother has a Leica).

4. The Land. On their pretty Mountainair acreage, E. Nuevo and Thomas Cates organized an outdoor installation that featured work by Michelle Franklin, Ted Loredo, Christine Wallers and others. The materials were straight from the earth; the results, in the best pieces, were transcendent.

5. Ken Leap's Sine Waves. Freestanding windows or mirrors that did indescribable things with light, Leap's metal-and-glass constructions all but stole the Dartmouth Street Gallery's Built show, upstaging even the bright, bouncy and function-free "furniture" of John Suttman.

6 and 7. Two Agnes Martin shows in Santa Fe. The Museum of Fine Arts' collection of works on paper and Site Santa Fe's retrospective of paintings served as a reminder of this Taos artist's inexplicably moving vision. Her radically reduced vocabulary--horizontal and vertical lines, pale, washy palette--somehow adds up to so much more than the sum of its parts that it can leave a grown man in tears.

8. Nineteenth century Lithography in Europe (University Art Museum). To stand in front of a Lautrec that is taller than you are, stare straight into a gloomy Redon, and melt into the soft colors of Bonnard--bracing, bracing.

9 and 10. It may be cheating, but art books are armchair galleries. Two outstanding ones from two of New Mexico's most original artists: Joel-Peter Witkin's The Bone House (Twin Palms Publishers) and Lucy Lippard's Florence Pierce: In Touch With the Light (Smith Book Fund). The Bone House includes some of the appalling and unaccountably beautiful images seen earlier this year in the Museum of Fine Arts' Unpublished and Unseen Photographs. As for Pierce, her opaque, mirror-based three-dimensional objects are as luminous as Witkin's mythic tableaux are dark, and this first book about her, by one of the country's most respected art writers, is long overdue.

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