New Mexico Museum of Art

Alcove 16/17.3, Third Exhibition in a Series of Seven Shows

June 03, 2016



(Santa Fe, June 3, 2016)—The New Mexico Museum of Art’s third show in the Alcove 16/17 series will open on June 24, and be on view through August 14. Alcove 16/17.3 features works by Christina Dallas, Tom Joyce, Eliza Naranjo Morse, Heidi Pollard, and Cecilia Portal.

The Alcove exhibitions are a distinctive feature of the New Mexico Museum of Art, focusing on current work by contemporary New Mexico artists.  Alcoves 16/17, curated by Merry Scully, is a series of five artist exhibitions with seven rotations over the course of a year. Thirty-five New Mexico artists in total will be featured in this series of seven week long exhibitions. These artist-centered showcases feature, new ideas, artists at all stages of their careers, and art being made in New Mexico right now.

Diversity of media, ideas, and stage of their career is evident in the artists featured in Alcove 16/17 #3 which includes photographers Christina Dallas and Cecilia Portal, sculptor Tom Joyce, painter Heidi Pollard and an installation by Eliza Naranjo Morse.

Christina Dallas is a photographer and installation artist. The Museum of Art will be showing work from her series of eclectic portraits, Secret Signals, Teen Angel Magic Spirit Photography. These works draw from a disparate list of inspirations and investigate the hand signifiers, which have been used throughout history as identifiers in portraiture such as: mudras, blessings, gang signs and magical signs. All of which relate to the history of portraiture, and photography and the desire to throw signs, at the camera, those secret signals performed like a ritual, as if the action could bring power or healing to its subjects or viewers. Dallas received her BFA from the University of New Mexico before going to UCLA for her MFA in photography, she recently moved back to New Mexico after fifteen years in Brooklyn. 

Long time New Mexico resident Tom Joyce has received national and international recognition for his cast and forged iron and steel sculpture. On view in Alcoves 16/17 #3 will be three steel “Surge” sculptures and dye infused photographs on aluminum. The fluid forms of the three forged high carbon steel sculptures seem to defy the weight and hardness of their medium, their flowing forms nearly float as they lift and fold onto themselves. Joyce is the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2003, and last March he completed a public commission for the Museum of Art and Design in midtown Manhattan. In addition to work in the New Mexico Museum of Art Collection, Joyce’s work can be found in many important public collections, including the Detroit Institute of Art, Smithsonian Institution’s Renwick Gallery, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Luce Foundation Center for American Art, Mint Museum of Art, National Metal Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Art, and Yale University Art Gallery. 

Eliza Naranjo Morse will be creating a sculptural environment for her near human scale mixed media character, The Space Between. One of three sculptures that will become The Universalies, a trio of characters that express different aspects of our world that exist as experience; spirituality balance, thought, and space and time. The Space Between holds matter at its center with the surrounding environment representing space. Eliza Naranjo Morse grew up in a family of artists, surrounded by people creating. In both her artwork, and in her daily life, Eliza Naranjo Morse strives for a balance that celebrates life and the act of creation. Naranjo Morse has shown her work, locally, nationally and internationally: including IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts; Cumbre de el Tajin, Veracruz, Mexico; Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts, Ekaterinburg, Russia; Chelsea Art Museum , New York; SITE Santa Fe; and Axle Contemporary.

Cecilia Portal will be exhibiting black-and-white photographic works from her Life of White series. This body of work includes abstract imagery from three distinct chapters: White on Cardboard, White on Paper, and White on Asphalt. Each chapter explores the essence of white, as it has revealed itself to the artist in dreams and memories of her childhood in Cuba.  Portal’s family migrated to the USA and later to Mexico, shortly after Castro took power. Adapting to new cultures and feeling disoriented in unfamiliar places are all common themes in Portal’s life. Her identity as an artist has been defined by the freedoms she has discovered in creating constructed realities within the framework of conceptual abstraction. Portal was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1991-1992, and has received grants from the U.S.- Mexico Fund for Culture, the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities, the New Mexico Community Foundation, and the McCune Foundation.  Her photographs have been exhibited in the United States, Latin America, and Europe.

In 2007 Heidi Pollard returned to New Mexico from New York to spend a year at the Roswell Artist in Residence Program and decided to stay. She is a recipient of the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, Individual Support Grant, and has been an artist in residence at CUE Art Foundation. Pollard creates paintings and small sculptures from found and humble materials. Her abstract paintings often hint at representation with the vaguely recognizable and biomorphic forms triggering a sense of familiarity in the viewer.   Her spirited color, animated compositions and often humorous titles belie the seriousness with which Pollard paints. Mastery of the painting medium and a sophisticated understanding of color make her work a joy to the eye. Pollard has exhibited her work nationally and has been written about in publications including Newsweek on-line; New American Painting; THE Magazine, Santa Fe; Weekly Alibi, Albuquerque; and Shifter on-line arts journal. 

The Alcove format dates to the 1917 founding of the New Mexico Museum of Art as the Art Gallery of the Museum of New Mexico. Small one-person exhibitions were held in the gallery alcoves through the 1950s, resuming in the mid-1980s, and again in the early 1990s.

A complete list of the exhibiting artists, to date in Alcoves 16/17, is at the end of this release. Click on this link to learn more about Alcove 16/17 on the museum’s web page.

Curator Merry Scully said of the series, “ I love this opportunity to meet and work with so many different working artists . New Mexico is home to a very diverse group of artists working across all media. In past history the Alcove exhibits had been grouped and curated along thematic constructs, but just as I curated the 2012 – 2013 sequence of Alcove exhibitions, for Alcoves 16/17 each artist’s space is conceived of individually. The exhibition is a hybrid of thirty five brief one-person exhibitions, and one year long exhibition with thirty five artists,” said Scully. Another purpose of the Alcove series and its related programming is to “create a culture of exchange and conversation—to present less formal opportunities for the community to engage in dialogue with the artists, and vice versa,” she added.

In addition to the artists included in the exhibitions, dozens more were considered, and many visits to exhibitions, galleries and artists’ studios continue to take place as the balance of the Alcove 16/17 roster is put in place.

Nearly one hundred years ago the New Mexico Museum of Art was built as part of a program to encourage artists to come live and work in New Mexico, and to this day the state continues to be a haven for serious working artists. Many of the artists’ works in those early exhibitions form the historical core of the museum’s collection. However, at the time of their shows, they, too, were contemporary artists working in New Mexico.


Opening Reception Alcove 16/17.3

Friday, June 24, 2016, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.



Gallery Conversation with the Alcove 16/17.3 Artists

Friday, July 8, 2016, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.



This informal gallery conversation with the artists exhibiting in the museum alcoves is a combination of exhibition walk-through and dialog with the artists. It is open to all, and all are encouraged to participate in the conversation.

Alcove 16/17 Artist List to date.

Scott Anderson

Philip V. Augustin

Christina Dallas

Stephen Davis

Gloria Graham

Scott Greene

Tom Joyce

Katherine Lee

Herb Lotz

Bonnie Lynch

Eliza Naranjo Morse

Heidi Pollard

Cecilia Portal

Jack Slenz

Walter Robinson




Media Contact:

Merry Scully, Curator




The New Mexico Museum of Art, founded in 1917 as the Art Gallery of the Museum of New Mexico, is housed in a spectacular Pueblo Revival building designed by I. H. and William M. Rapp based on their New Mexico building at the Panama-California Exposition (1915). The museum’s architecture inaugurated what has come to be known as “Santa Fe Style.” For nearly 100 years, the Museum has celebrated the diversity of the visual arts and the legacy of New Mexico as a cultural crossroads by collecting and exhibiting work by leading artists from New Mexico and elsewhere. This tradition continues today with a wide-array of exhibitions with work from the world’s leading artists. The New Mexico Museum of Art brings the art of New Mexico to the world and the art of the world to New Mexico.


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