Gary A Bibb - At the Threshhold of Becoming

cecil touchon
Mar 16, 2016 6:18PM

Opening for the artist: Friday May 8th from 5pm - 7pm
Exhibition continues through June 27, 2015


On view, a selection of recent explorations by Gary A. Bibb into the realm of mixed media painting and collage. Bibb's unique sense of color and composition express a deeply felt concern with aesthetic considerations and the place of artistic practice in contemporary society. Intimate in scale, Bibb's rich surfaces invite the viewer to linger and discover unknown vistas in these landscapes of the mind.

As the artist states:

"The artist's creative process is more than an intellectual puzzle or an emotional exercise; it is an expression of the soul whereby the rational, emotional and spiritual components of our being work in concert, each playing an integral role.

Confronted with uncertainty and disorder, we strive to resolve these conflicts. Therefore, an artist develops a compulsion to complete the task of selecting, signifying and organizing the various pictorial elements until a personal sense of balance, harmony and purpose is achieved."



With its inaugural exhibition, At the Threshold of Becoming, Nisa Touchon Fine Art can be added to the list of galleries spreading outside of the usual Santa Fe circuits. In a sore-thumb-pink building on Rosina Street, this newcomer splits the gap between two emerging districts, Baca Street and Siler Road. The gallery specializes in collage, assemblage art, and photography, and its roster currently includes Zach Collins, Gary A. Bibb, Lisa Hochstein, Hope Kroll, Dennis Parlante, Kareem Rizk, Joan Schulze, Melinda Tidwell, Lanny Quarles, Paul Rousso, and Jonathan Whitfill. The interior defied the sore thumb exterior with the tastefully minimal installation of Gary A. Bibb’s recent solo show of mixed-media collages. Bibb, a midcareer artist living and working in Denver, creates painterly mixed-media works in unpredictable palettes that run the gamut from gloomy and menacing to lyrical and bright. The panels betray a well- honed practice that includes foraging for found objects— paper, cardboard, wood, metal—in alleys and industrial sites, intervening in the afterlife of this human detritus, and the process of selecting, organizing, and reconciling these disparate materials. The process is evident, too, in Bibb’s aesthetic. The artist begins with a space of disorder and conflicting energies, and through a layering process brings his materials into compositions that seem frozen in the middle of unfolding. Each panel seems to vibrate as these opposing energies actively work out syntheses: vibrant colors quickly shift and limn expanses of darkness, heavy layering brings supple texture to divots and creases, collaged papers peek out and interrupt the otherwise abstract milieu with pattern or pop-culture signifiers. Never entirely at ease, each work feels like a question, not an answer. Bibb refers to himself as a Casualist, a highly personal and subjective approach to mark-making that is concerned with the alchemy of process, a process filtered through the multivalent, even mundane reality of daily experience. In 2011, Sharon L. Butler described the New Casualist abstract painting as “a studied, passive-aggressive incompleteness... a broader concern with multiple forms of imperfection: not merely what is unfinished but also the off-kilter, the overtly offhand, the not-quite-right.” ( This tendency toward “incompleteness” is evident in the body of work Bibb presents, as many works engage with similar formal questions. The most striking example throughout the exhibition is the reiteration of dominant horizontal and vertical lines engaging as a primary dynamic, in which the rest of the composition falls around this conflict to widely differing affects. Some of these dynamics become resolved into harmonies, others maintain dissonance. The strength of the exhibition is its multiplicity. Bibb has also been the creative and curatorial force behind several projects, often with leanings toward guerilla exhibitions or grass-roots inclusiveness using online exhibitions and a global network of artists. These include Remarque (2014,, in which international artists were sent digital works to complete and exhibit online, which Bibb sent out his own work to be installed in public places internationally by fellow artists and then documented, and Fluxface in Space (2010-11,, in which an international group of artists submitted work to be launched into orbit onboard Shuttle missions Discovery and Endeavor. These projects and initiatives are threaded by an ongoing interest in experimentation outside the traditional bounds of marketable, commodifiable art. The open- endedness of these efforts is paralleled in Bibb’s compositions. It is a rewarding debut from Nisa Touchon, and well worth the trek to this new destination. While you’re there, be sure to wander upstairs. Sharing the space with the gallery is the International Museum of Collage, Assemblage and Construction. New to Santa Fe, but operating for nearly twenty years, the museum is an archive and gallery that organizes exhibitions both physically and online. Impressively inclusive, the museum accepts donated work into using a “specimen gathering” model, sampling a global cross section of creators. The museum also actively fosters the collage arts by hosting workshops and selling cleverly selected scraps in collage kits. Truly a treasure trove, Santa Fe is lucky to have received these two additions to the scene. —LAUREN TRESP

cecil touchon