How the West is One

On display Apr 20, 2007 - Feb 19, 2012

How the West Is One: The Art of New Mexico, organizes key objects from the museum’s collections so that they outline an intercultural history of New Mexico art, from the arrival of railroads in 1879 to the present. This exhibition presents 70 works by Native American, Hispanic, and European-American artists which illustrate the changing aesthetic ideals that have evolved within southwestern art over the last 125 years.

The exhibition allows viewers to discover the one-ness of New Mexico Art. Unique, unpredictable, often contradictory unity developed from the interactions of the Native American Hispanic, and mainstream American aesthetic traditions. Ranging from tourist icons to internationally acclaimed art, these prime objects exemplify the changing aesthetic paradigms of southwestern art.

Joseph Traugott, Ph.D., Curator of Twentieth Century Art

Ray Martín Abeyta’s dual portrait of an Indian from Asia and an Indian from the Americas puns on the geographic ambiguity of Christopher Columbus's erroneous "discoveries" in the Caribbean.
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Culture Rush; Documenting Southwestern Life
The completion of the transcontinental railway through New Mexico in the 1880s initiated a “culture rush” in the Southwest. European-American artists and anthropologists hurried to the region to observe Native groups and collect artifacts before they were influenced by mainstream American culture and disappeared.
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Who Benefits from the Wonderous New Museum?
The museum’s radical "Open-Door" exhibition policy attracted artists to New Mexico helped to make Santa Fe a cultural destination in the 1920s.
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Modernist Explosion
The “Open Door” policy at the Museum of Fine Arts stimulated an artistic explosion following World War I.
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Aesthetic Conflicts
Aesthetic differences within the Santa Fe–Taos Art Movement encouraged the development of artistic fraternities.
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Rejecting Tourism
The anthropologists, intellectuals, and modernist artists in Santa Fe decried the growing commercialization of New Mexico culture in the 1920s.
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Cultural Projects During the Great Depression
A major decline in southwestern tourism began in 1929 after the stock market crashed, and sparked a worldwide depression.
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Modernist Perspectives During the 1920s and 30s
By the 1930s two groups of modernist artists had developed in New Mexico. Nationally known artists and intellectuals were visited Mabel Dodge Luhan in Taos.
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After the War- The End of Nostalgia
World War II marked a turning point for New Mexico art. The romance of nostalgic paintings— that had dominated New Mexico art for decades—seemed shallow and insignificant in the aftermath of the conflict.
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Accepting and Rejecting Formalism
During the Cold War, many New Mexico artists embraced abstraction and rejected realist imagery.
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Feminist artists opened a dialogue that rejected the dominance of mainstream cultural practices. This openness to multiple styles and media led an intercultural group of artists to question traditional identities and consciously to forge new cultural fusions.
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The exhibition How the West Is One and the corresponding publication The Art of New Mexico: How the West Is One have been funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Generous additional funding has been provided by: Marianne and Michael O’Shaughnessy; Jean and Robert L. Clarke; Barbara and H. Earl (Bud) Hoover II; The Leadership Council of the Museum of Fine Arts; Museum of New Mexico Foundation

© 2003-2012 The New Mexico Museum of Art, a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. 107 West Palace, off the historic Santa Fe Plaza
Mailing Address: PO Box 2087, Santa Fe, NM 87504
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