In Santa Fe, a Forward-Thinking Gallery Blurs the Line between Art and Craft

May 31, 2016 9:15PM

The difference between art and craft has long been debated. With that in mind, a prominent gallery in Santa Fe’s Railyard District recently reinvented itself as form & concept—a new organization that embraces both.

The project will operate out of the space that previously housed Zane Bennett Contemporary Art. According to director Frank Rose, the community-focused form & concept will “examine the often fuzzy boundaries between contemporary art, craft, and design” through exhibitions, artist talks and workshops, and an artist-in-residence program.

The idea was born out of Rose’s creative collaboration with Sandy Zane, co-owner of the original gallery. “We saw a great opportunity to explore this conversation emerging between the disciplines of art, craft, and design,” Rose has said. “Art no longer has to be ‘useless’ or exist for its own sake. Craft is now recognized as more than skill, functionality, or a specific material.”

The organization’s inaugural exhibition exemplifies its mission. True to its name, “Made in the Desert” features works created in New Mexico and Arizona by a dozen or so contributors. Further breaking down the distinction between craftsman and artist, form & concept uses the term “craft artist” to describe them.

These craft artists work in a variety of media, representing a range of Southwestern traditions. There’s Janet Abrams’ architectural clay installation and, in contrast, Susan Beiner’s richly detailed porcelain sculptures that look inspired by organic forms. Armond Lara adds a comic twist to the old-fashioned genre of the wooden marionette, while Arthur Lopez inserts modern characters into small installations and sculptures that evoke the miniature Catholic altars scattered across Mexico.

Are these works better defined as art or craft? They’re both, and neither. This fusion of forms, the blending of genres, helps make form & concept an intriguing addition to Santa Fe’s lively gallery scene.

—Bridget Gleeson

Made in the Desert” is on view at form & concept, Santa Fe, May 27–Aug. 21, 2016.

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