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April 14, 2013
COLOR VISIONS: THE SANFORD WURMFELD EXPERIENCE
Hyperallergic
April 14, 2013
John Yau
<B>COLOR VISIONS: THE SANFORD WURMFELD EXPERIENCE</b><BR>
Hyperallergic<BR>
April 14, 2013<BR>
John Yau<BR>


























Color Visions: The Sanford Wurmfeld Experience

by John Yau on April 14, 2013

1.

For many, Sanford Wurmfeld: Color Visions 1966 – 2013 at the Hunter College/Times Square Gallery (February 15–April 20, 2013) will be an introduction to an artist, who, according to the art historian William C. Agee, “may well be the best little-known painter in New York today.” There are many reasons for this oversight, but I want to single out three.

The first and most important is that Wurmfeld’s deep historical research in the field of color theory is unrivaled. He is, in that regard, both a painter and a scholar, a combination the art world distrusts. Formalist academics and critics have spent years cleaving thinking from craft, believing the latter to be obsolete and unnecessary, rather than a matter of necessity and urgency.

The second reason is that Wurmfeld’s study of color aligns him with Josef Albers and the European avant-garde, which has long been interested in color theory and issues of perception, going back to Georges Seurat. However, the connection between the field of scientific inquiry and artistic practice is one that Americans have failed to embrace. It is also why Op Art continues to fly beneath the radar.

The third reason is what David Batchelor examines in his book Chromophobia (2000) — the fear that one might be contaminated by color, that it isn’t serious enough. According to Batchelor:

    Color is dangerous, or it is trivial, or it is both. (It is typical of prejudices to conflate the sinister and the superficial.) Either way, color is routinely excluded from the higher concerns of the Mind. It is other to the values of Western culture. Or perhaps culture is other to the higher values of color. Or color is the corruption of culture.


2.

The layout of the Hunter College/Times Square Gallery is maze-like, which — contrary to expectations — I ended up thinking was the perfect place for a survey of Wurmfeld’s work. I always had a choice about what room I could walk into at any point, so I just wandered about, and periodically doubling back to try to establish a chronology in my head. At some point, I realized that it didn’t matter.

The reason it didn’t matter is because the art took over, which is the way it should be. I stopped caring about exactly when Wurmfeld made a particular group of paintings or sculptures, or when he began using colored sheets of Plexiglas to make an installation that was as disorienting as anything made by Richard Serra. Wurmfield’s installations, however, in contrast to Serra’s, are on a human scale in a way that underscores their transience.

The exhibition catalogue, Sanford Wurmfeld: Color Visions 1966 – 2013 (2013), which I picked up on one of my return visits to the front desk, features an illuminating essay by William C. Agee, the exhibition’s curator, along with insightful contributions by Hunter students in both art history and art: Rotem Linial, Bridget McCarthy, Theresa Anderson Morrison, Joan Reutershan and Nicoline Strøm-Jensen. Robert L. Herbert, who has written and curated exhibitions on Georges Seurat and 19th-century French art, also contributed an essay.

3.

In his essay, Agee pays significant attention to Wurmfeld’s Cyclorama projects, a small model of which is included in this exhibition. In its ambitious synthesis of architecture and painting, the various Cyclorama installations are continuous paintings, an environment in which the viewer is surrounded by color. They offer a strong and convincing challenge to the current state of thinking about painting and the visual. This is how Agee, writing about the Cyclorama projects, puts it:

    A generation of art, permeated by conceptualism and theory, has devalued the power of the visual; like color itself, as well as art, painting that provides visual pleasure has been seen as too easy, too simple, lacking in “intellectual” depth. This is wrong, for it fails to understand that the mind and eye, the intellect and the senses, cannot be separated, and in fact are inextricably joined in one thinking, feeling body. Sensory intelligence and visual intelligence are fundamental to our being. The visual is profound, for it is how we see and thus how we comprehend the world.


I was able to see the “E-Cyclorama” (2008) when it was installed at the Neuberger Museum of Art (May 31–July 21, 2009). The “E-Cyclorama” is a 37-foot-long oval painting that you enter through a hatchway in the floor, a room in which you are immersed inside a sweeping panorama of color. This is what I wrote in the review published in The Brooklyn Rail (September 2009), which I think bears repeating:

    Its structure is the repetition of a grid consisting of thirty-one squares to a side superimposed over a grid of thirty squares to a side, with these grids abutting each other all the way around the interior. This enables Wurmfeld to achieve a constant gradation along the vertical axis, as well as a continuous flipping of the figure-ground relationship. Meanwhile, starting with the center or horizon line, the artist shifts the upper half towards the darker end of the color (shade) and the lower half towards the lighter values (tint). The color runs across the spectrum, from deep violet to luminous yellow, while, within each gridded square, it is inflected away from a pure hue to a grayscale along the centered dividing line. While all of this might sound dry and methodical—think Josef Albers color studies times 100—the results are deeply engaging.


4.

It is impossible to enumerate all the different things that Wurmfeld does with color, and all the effects he achieves, from an optical buzz to a kind of luminous fog that seems to float in front of the surface — something that J. M. W. Turner and Agnes Martin get in some of their work. At one point, I was joined two other visitors to the exhibition — the painters, Sherman Sam and Melissa Meyer — and we tried to figure out exactly what Wurmfeld was doing in a painting from the mid-1970s.

“II-4 (4H/2V)” (1974) is a square comprised of nine squares. Each of the nine squares consists of two, three or four colors, with the four-color square in the middle of the grid. The longer we looked, the more dazzled we became. We stopped trying to figure out how he did it and let ourselves be mesmerized by the color juxtapositions, the buzz and the shifts. There is something both wildly intoxicating and deeply satisfying about these paintings, even as they set you on edge, making you conscious of how little you might ponder what it means to see.

By the early 1980s, Wurmfeld was working with a rectangular grid of 135 squares, nine high by fifteen across, each consisting of two or more colors arranged in a grid of different sized squares. In “11-35 (Y-V)” (1982), we keep focusing and refocusing, our eyes unable to come to rest in any single area of the painting. Some grids shift into stepped diagonals while others emanate a visual buzz, the colors losing their edges yet remaining separate, as if floating a fraction of an inch in front of the picture plane.

5.

In the late 1960s, Wurmfeld made what Agee describes as “a series of hexagonal wood columns, in which each side was slightly turned from top to bottom, with the result that one could always see three colors at once.” The viewer becomes conscious of moving around the column, registering the color changes. The columns, which are harbingers of the Cyclorama projects, reveal an artist at once meticulous and restless, always searching for another way to structure color. Might not these works be paired with Anne Truitt’s columns? In their use of craft and color, don’t they offer an alternative to Minimalism?

Working with the columns led him to casting acrylic sheets into three-dimensional structures — three transparent sheets of cast acrylic, each a different primary color, extending from a central axis. Arranged in a room, so that the viewer has to negotiate his or her passage through them, the colors overlap to become other colors, throwing into doubt whether the planes we see are solid wonder if the plane or the prismatic effects of light. In this installation, which Wurmfeld called a “walk-through,” as well as with the wood columns, I sensed that he had distilled a perceptual issue to its most economical resolution, but without the desire to elaborate on it or make different variations; he wasn’t interested in production.

6.

In 1985, while working on a large painting, Wurmfeld made a mistake during the preparation, drawing over a grid and adding one more square than he needed.

According to Agee:

    By overdrawing the correct number in a grid, though, he achieved a new pattern with a continual change in the size and format of the grid.


By placing two different hues inside the changing squares, the artist is able to achieve a field of color changing continuously in whatever direction you are moving: right to left, left to right; near to far and far to near.

It is this gradually shifting grid that Wurmfeld incorporated into each of his Cyclorama paintings. As we interact with it, its continuously changing field of color becomes an improvised score of visual music whose tempo and change we, in effect, can control. There is something so democratic and generous in that gesture — and isn’t the dream of painting to be open and inclusive? (I am not talking about subject matter.) It may have its roots in science and color theory, but Wurmfeld’s work is anything but analytical or dry. Its scrupulous adherence to optical principles is matched by its longing, devotion and passion.

Source Link:    More information

Associated Artists

*  Sanford Wurmfeld
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DAVID RICHARD GALLERY NEWSLETTER
Newsletter Vol. 4, No. 2
February, 2013
February 16, 2013
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JUDY CHICAGO
Woven and Stitched
February 15 – March 23, 2013

Gallery Lectures and Discussions on Tapestries and Textiles:
Saturday, February 23, 2:00—4:00pm
February 15, 2013
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UNDER THE INFLUENCE: INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD ROTH
Huffington Post
Ridley Howard
February 15, 2013
January 25, 2013
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MICHAEL SCHULTHEIS painting on cover of Luxe Magazine
LUXE Magazine
January 2013
January 18, 2013
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Curiosity Is Key Interview with Toots Zynsky by Jessica Shaykett

Toots Zynsky is a creative force: Over the past 40 years, she has exhibited in museums and galleries the world over, helped establish the Pilchuck Glass School, lived on several continents, raised a family, and invented an entirely new method of forming glass.
January 16, 2013
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DAVID RICHARD GALLERY NEWSLETTER
Newsletter Vol. 4, No. 1
January, 2013
January 16, 2013
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ERIC ZAMMITT
Visual Art Source
January 2013
Iris McLister
January 01, 2013
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Susan Woodruff
Making the World
Huffington Post
2013
Shana Nys Damboryt
January 01, 2013
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Suzan Woodruff - Echo Maker
Huffington Post
2013
Anthony Miller
December 18, 2012
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NEW AMERICAN PAINTINGS #103
November 30, 2012
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FRED EVERSLEY at David Richard Gallery
ARTnews
December 2012
Ann Landi
October 16, 2012
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THE MARKET'S HOTTEST ARTISTS
Bloomberg.com
October 16, 2012
Ben Steverman
October 15, 2012
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BEVERLY FISHMAN NONFUNCTIONAL FRAGILITY
September 29, 2012
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THE DAVID RICHARD GALLERY EXHIBITS BILLY AL BENGSTON
Art Media Agency
September 29, 2012
September 26, 2012
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FOURTH FRIDAYS FOR FRIENDS
September 01, 2012
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DEBORAH REMINGTON / JUDY CHICAGO
Huffington Post
Peter Frank
September 1, 2012
August 31, 2012
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DIA GETS DOSE OF BIG PHARMA
Huffpost Detroit
John Corso
August 31, 2012
August 30, 2012
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PUSSYRIOT: WOMEN STILL A POTENT FORCE, SAYS FEMINIST ART FOUNDER JUDY CHICAGO
International Business Times
Gianluca Mezzofiore
August 30, 2012
August 20, 2012
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A SERIES OF JUDY CHICAGO EXHIBITIONS AND EVENTS IN THE UK FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1985
ArtDaily.org
August 20, 2012

August 08, 2012
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DEBORAH REMINGTON: SELECTED WORKS FROM 1964 to 1975
Pasatiempo
Michael Abatemarco
July 20, 2012
August 08, 2012
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Judy Chicago: Reviewing Powerplay

ArtInfo.com
August 8, 2012
August 01, 2012
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JUDY CHICAGO: REVIEWING POWERPLAY
THE Magazine
Susan Wilder
August 1, 2012
July 12, 2012
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Interrogating Heroic-Ness – and Judy Chicago’s Cultural Powers
Adobe Airstream
July 12, 2012
Ellen Berkovitch
June 30, 2012
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A TAOS MODERNIST EXHIBITION CELEBRATES BEATRICE MANDELMAN, FOUNDER OF THE TAOS VALLEY ART SCHOOL
Albuquerque Journal/Journal Santa Fe/Journal North
Kathleen Roberts
June 29,2012
May 31, 2012
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Pod Cast
May 18, 2012
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FIVE FROM FIVE "A SAMPLING OF PAINTING IN NEW YORK CITY
dArt Internatioanl
John Mendelsohn
Summer 2012
May 14, 2012
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ROBERT SWAIN "COLOR AFFECT" AT DAVID RICHARD GALLERY
Eyes In
May 14, 2012

May 10, 2012
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TOM HOLLAND: “PAINTINGS PAST AND PRESENT” AT DAVID RICHARD CONTEMPORARY
Art LTD
Michael Abatemarco
May 2012

May 04, 2012
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“A PAINTING SURVEY”, MICHAEL WRIGHT AT THE DAVID RICHARD CONTEMPORARY
Art Media Agency
May 4, 2012

May 01, 2012
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An Interview with Artist Julian Stanczak
GeoForm
May 2012
Julie Karabenick
May 01, 2012
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An Interview with Artist Julian Stanczak
GeoForm
May 2012
Julie Karabenick
April 23, 2012
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DANIELLE SHELLEY AT DAVID RICHARD CONTEMPORARY
Art Media Agency
April 23, 2012

March 30, 2012
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DAVID RICHARD TO MOVE TO SANTA FE RAILYARD
Adobe Airstream
March 30, 2012

March 03, 2012
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THE CROCKER ART MUSEUM OPENS A SURVEY OF GROUNDBREAKING ARTIST JUDY CHICAGO
Art Knowledge News
March 3, 2012

February 29, 2012
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WARD JACKSON
Huffington Post
Peter Frank
February 29, 2012

February 26, 2012
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DAVID RICHARD CONTEMPORARY - PALM SPRINGS FINE ART FAIR - 2012
Argot & Ochre
February 26, 2012

February 24, 2012
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30 ARTISTS TO WATCH IN 2012
NYArts Magazine
February 24, 2012

February 23, 2012
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THE INAUGURAL PALM SPRINGS FINE ART FAIR FEATURES MORE THAN 2,000 POST-WAR & CONTEMPORARY WORKS
Art Knowledge News
February 15, 2012

January 25, 2012
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DAVID SOLOMON AT DAVID RICHARD CONTEMPORARY
Art In America
February 2012
Jan Ernst Adlmann

January 06, 2012
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SANTA FE GALLERY PLANS MANDELMAN EXHIBITION
The Taos News
December 29, 2011

January 05, 2012
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TOM HOLLAND AT SANCHEZ ART CENTER

January 03, 2012
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Beverly Fishman
DECEPTIVE PLEASURES
by Donald Kuspit on ArtNet

December 30, 2011
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HOLLAND'S WORK WILL BE PRESENTED BY DAVID RICHARD CONTEMPORARY FROM SANTA FE, NM

December 24, 2011
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ART LTD REVIEW OF DAVID SOLOMON AT DAVID RICHARD CONTEMPORARY
Art LTD
Jon Carver
December 24, 2011

December 17, 2011
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BAY AREA ABSTRACTION: 1945 - 1965
Visual Art Source
December 17, 2011

December 17, 2011
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THE BAY WINDOW - SAN FRANCISCO'S INFLUENCE CAN BE SEEN THROUGH ARTISTS' WORKS
Albuquerque Journal / Journal Santa Fe / Journal North
Harmony Hammond
December 16, 2011

December 13, 2011
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DON MORRIS: THE ART OF DECONSTRUCTION
Artweek.LA
December 21, 2011

December 13, 2011
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JULIAN STANCZAK: GREAT COLORIST OF THE 20TH CENTURY
Cleveland Institute of Art
December 13, 2011

December 12, 2011
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JUDY CHICAGO TO RECEIVE THE PALM SPRINGS FINE ART FAIR'S LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Visual Art Source
December 12, 2011

December 12, 2011
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DEMYSTIFYING PROCESS
Studio Spoken
December 12, 2011

November 30, 2011
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BAY AREA ABSTRACTION 1945 - 1965
THE Magazine
November 30, 2011

November 25, 2011
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DAVID SOLOMON AT DAVID RICHARD CONTEMPORARY
New Mexican's Pasatiempo
Michael Abatemarco
November 25, 2011

November 11, 2011
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'BAY AREA ABSTRACTION: 1945-1965' AT DAVID RICHARD CONTEMPORARY'
Antiques and The Arts Weekly
November 11, 2011

November 06, 2011
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Cleveland Institute of Art touts its own history in shows on Robert Mangold, Julian Stanczak and Ed Mieczkowski
Cleveland.com
November 6, 2011
Steven Litt
October 30, 2011
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Q&A: JUDY CHICAGO
Los Angeles Times
Jori Finkel
October 30, 2011

October 26, 2011
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JUDY CHICAGO'S UPCOMING DISAPPEARING ENVIRONMENTS: HOW DO YOU MAKE ART OUT OF GIGANTIC PYRAMIDS OF DRY ICE? LA Weekly
October 26, 2011

October 06, 2011
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ART PLATFORM L.A.
ArtNet
October 6, 2011

September 26, 2011
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MICHAEL COOK: VENETIAN
THE Magazine
Diane Armitage
October 2011

September 23, 2011
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JUDY CHICAGO: WHAT I LEARNED FROM MALE CHAUVINISTS
LA Weekly
September 23, 2011

September 21, 2011
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CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART OPTICAL ART EXHIBIT A TEST FOR THE EYES
WEWS
September 21, 2011

September 18, 2011
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Charles Hinman exhibition at The Butler Institute of American Art
August 27, 2011
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MICHAEL COOK
Visual Art Source
August 27, 2011
August 16, 2011
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PILL SPILL OFFERS LATE-SUMMER THRILL AT TMA
Toledo Free Press
August 16, 2011

August 11, 2011
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WTVG-TV'S INTERVIEW WITH AMY GILMAN ABOUT PILL SPILL
WTVG-TV
August 11, 2011

August 09, 2011
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JOURNEY IN A LIFE BOAT
Santa Fe Reporter
August 09, 2011

July 15, 2011
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CALIFORNIA STATE OF MIND
Albuquerque Journal / Journal North
July 15, 2011

July 06, 2011
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ARTISTS OF THE MONTH: PHILIP BALDWIN AND MONICA GUGGISBERG
Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass
July 2011

June 30, 2011
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TOOTS ZYNSKY ON COVER OF GLASS ART MAGAZINE
Glass Art
July/August 2011

June 20, 2011
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JUDY CHICAGO

June 17, 2011
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WOMAN'S HOUR - JUDY CHICAGO
BBC Radio
June 17, 2011

March 11, 2011
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A.K.A. ZEN
Visual Art Source
March 3, 2011

March 10, 2011
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OVERGROWN ZEN GARDEN
Santa Fe Reporter
March 10, 2011

February 28, 2011
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JEAN WELLS "RE-POP"
Glass
Spring 2011

December 23, 2010
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PAINT BY THE NUMBERS
Santa Fe Reporter
December 23, 2010

November 05, 2010
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ART REVIEW: 1960S REVISITED (IN SANTA FE)
Adobe Airstream
November 5, 2010

November 01, 2010
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The New Criterion review of "Julian Stanczak: Color - Grid"
Gallery Chronicle
James Panero
Published November 2010
July 01, 2010
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THE ART OF GLASS: TRANSCENDING FROM CRAFT TO ART
Uploaded Magazine
July 01, 2010

June 28, 2010
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FAIR CITY - SANTA FE GEARS UP FOR SUMMER
Art & Antiques
July 2010

June 28, 2010
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TRADITION AND TRANSGRESSION - IN SANTA FE, CONTEMPORARY ART MOVES FORWARD IN CONVERSATION WITH THE PAST.
Art & Antiques
June 2010

June 14, 2010
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FORMER OPERA THEATRE OF ST. LOUIS DIRECTOR OPENS ART GALLERY IN SANTA FE
STL Today
June 14, 2010

June 13, 2010
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SANTA FE TURNS 400
Art In America
June/July 2010

June 12, 2010
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PAUL HENRY RAMIREZ - PRESS RELEASE

June 12, 2010
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BEVERLY FISHMAN "FUTURE NATURAL"

May 19, 2010
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SOFA WEST: SANTA FE 2010

February 01, 2010
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Terri Roland
Art In America
February 2010
Harmony Hammond
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David Richard Gallery, LLC | 1570 Pacheco Street, A1, Santa Fe, NM 87505 | p (505) 983-9555 | f (505) 983-1284


10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Tuesday - Saturday, or by appointment


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