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June 25th, 2013

Summer Program: Railyard Galleries

SITE Santa Fe’s Summer Program is a series of tours and field trips throughout Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico for SITE’s interns, Young Curators, and SITE Scholars.

Yilin Yang is an intern in the Education Department at SITE. She is from China and has been studying art history at Wesleyan College in Macon, GA for two years. Her enthusiasm for contemporary art and curiosity about museum work brought her to SITE Santa Fe this summer.

The first field trip arranged for SITE’s interns, Young Curators, and SITE Scholars was a tour of three Railyard galleries last Friday. The weather turned windy and cloudy that day, but it could not blow away my enthusiasm. The anticipation of a new experience and gaining knowledge excited me.

The first gallery we visited was TAI Gallery. TAI specializes in contemporary Japanese bamboo art and photography. It was interesting to take a close look at Japanese artists’ experimentation with the different attributes of bamboo. Exemplified by many baskets in TAI, the strength and pliability of bamboo coexisted in entangled yet stable structures, revealing the vigorous but calm beauty of Japanese culture. I was also attracted to the charm of craftsmanship that is treasured in our industrialized era. Each piece of work was unique.

In recent years, many new dynamic centers of contemporary art have been established in Asia, South America and other areas outside Europe and North America. When I applied for summer internships a few months ago, I found many contemporary art institutions and galleries that were concerned with catching up to and promoting the latest international art trends. I am curious about how they are fulfilling these aspirations. What specific procedures would they go through? Here at TAI, I heard a real example of this issue. The gallery staff gave us a brief talk about TAI’s achievement in collaborating with Japanese artists through both personal and official networks. I was excited to learn these details of international art interaction.

The next gallery we visited was David Richard Gallery, which was presenting a major show of Richard Anuszkiewicz’s work. This show revealed the artist’s exploration of media and visual perception from 1986 to 2012. Anuszkiewicz’s works were displayed in the center of the gallery. Visitors could walk in a circle and follow the development of Anuszkiewicz’s art, then go back to the beginning of the artist’s exploration to make a short comparison. Adjacent to Anuszkiewicz’s show, there was another space for a smaller show of Beverly Fishman’s works. Beverly Fishman was deeply influenced by Richard Anuszkiewicz.  The arrangement of these two exhibitions symbolically represents the rebirth of Anuszkiewicz’s art in another artist’s creation and indirectly stresses the importance of Anuszkiewicz’s contemporary innovation.  It was a great arrangement according to the in-depth and integrated art historical inquiry. The exhibition design of David Richard Gallery is something I will look back on for inspiration if I choose to pursue a career as a curator.

Zane Bennett Contemporary Art might be the most ambitious of the three galleries that we visited in the Railyard. It is exhibiting a great number of outstanding international contemporary art works that cover a wide range of styles and media. The Exhibitions Coordinator welcomed us and answered our questions. He introduced the role of galleries in contemporary art collection. I was impressed by his explanation of the gallery’s cooperation with dealers and auction houses. We also had a brief discussion about how the gallery choses and promotes rising artists. These discussions have deepened my insight into the business aspect of art.

I really enjoyed this field trip.  I am still pulling out more valuable information from my memory that will help me in developing my career plan. There are various directions and careers in the field of contemporary art, and it is neither effective nor possible to try and secure internships in all the positions that I am interested in. This field trip provided me with a possible solution to this problem. It helped me learn the similarities and differences between museum work and gallery work. I believe the internships at the SITE are indeed mutually beneficial experiences for the museum and its interns.

Photo courtesy of Zane Bennett Contemporary Art