United States

10 Exhibitions to Visit in New Mexico this Winter

by Paul Joseph  |  Published November 20, 2023

If you’re visiting New Mexico this winter and would like to take in some culture during your stay, then there are some great exhibitions taking place across the southwestern state.

Gustave Baumann ( American, b. Germany, 1881-1971), Cottonwood Tassels, 1943. Color woodcut, State I, edition 6/125. Purchase with funds from Elizabeth Wills and the Friends of Art.

One of the Mountain States of the southern Rocky Mountains, New Mexico’s diverse culture, rich history, and beautiful natural landscapes have inspired many an artist down the years. Indeed, the state’s capacity to stimulate creativity can be seen in its numerous museums and cultural institutions, many of which will be playing host to some great exhibitions this winter. Here are 10 to look forward to.

Cottonwood Tassels: Gustave Baumann’s Prints, Proofs, and Process

One of New Mexico’s most prestigious seats of learning, University of New Mexico Art Museum stages regular exhibits throughout the year. Running through winter and into next spring is this exhibition featuring the working materials involved in creating an editioned impression of the late American artist Gustave Baumann’s Cottonwood Tassels (1943), considered  by many one of his greatest works. A master colorist and carver, Baumann helped revive and popularise the colour woodcut in the US, executing every step of the printmaking process himself, using colour, line, and the medium’s experimental nature to create evocative images of Southwestern landscapes. The progressive proofs, trial prints, and blocks on display in the exhibition shine a fascinating light on his artistic process.

University of New Mexico Art Museum,  Albuquerque / Through 9 March 2024

Bryce Risley: Focusing Beyond Balloons 

(Photo: Bryce Risley)

Santa Fe-based photographer, social scientist and balloonist Bryce Risely is renowned for capturing the adventure sport of ballooning through the prism of ballooning culture and people. Currently engaged in a multi-year project to collect and record stories and photos of Albuquerque’s ballooning community(said to be the largest in the world), he has amassed a vast collection of images over the years, a selection of which feature in this exhibition. Among the photos on display include Albuquerque-based balloon pilots, crew, and enthusiasts alike, showcasing aspects of ballooning not often captured by photographers.

Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, Albuquerque / Through 31 January 2024

Witnessing Justice at Nuremberg: Nazi War Crimes Trials Through the Eyes of New Mexicans Dorothy Adams Greene and Lawrence Rhee

(Photo: New Mexico Holocaust & Intolerance Museum)

Small in scale but mighty in impact, this exhibition will examine the quest for justice at Nuremberg through a selection of original documents, photographs, and artifacts. It examines the challenges and importance of the Nuremberg trials and the international community’s response to Nazi crimes against humanity. Through personal narratives, visitors will be invited to explore themes of global justice, corporate responsibility, and the consequences of atrocity. It will also offer insight into the experience of prosecuting war crimes from the perspective of members of the legal team.

New Mexico Holocaust & Intolerance Museum, Albuquerque / Through August 2024

Conversing with the Land: Native North American Baskets of the Maxwell Museum Collection

Baskets hold stories of techniques passed within communities over generations, and of skills honed through years of practice. Such stories connect us to the lands on which they were made and to the materials from which they were constructed. Through a wide assortment of baskets and other items gleaned from the museum’s collections, this exhibition celebrates Native North American basketry traditions, as well as by turning the spotlight on the conversations, prayers, laughter, and songs shared among both basket makers and their users.

Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Albuquerque / Through 31 January 2024

Shadow and Light

Virgil Ortiz, Mitz Nopek, 2022, Recon Watchman Matriarch, 42 x 25 x 22 in.; Ha’pon (war shield), 39 x 21 x 5 in, high-fire clay and glazes. © Virgil Ortiz. (Photo: Virgil Ortiz)

In September 2023, the New Mexico Museum Of Art Vladem Contemporary opened its doors in the Santa Fe’s Railyard District, breaking away from the New Mexico Museum of Art’s 1917 building to focus on work made post-1980. The newly constructed museum’s inaugural exhibitions plays upon the famed New Mexico light which is credited for attracting artists and photographers to the region for decades. Filling two galleries of the museum, the exhibition looks at artworks from the mid-20th century through the present day with an eye towards the West and Southwest, highlighting our desire for visual experiences that convey more than the empirical.

New Mexico Museum of Art – Vladem Contemporary, Santa Fe / Through 28 April 2024

Horizons: Weaving Between the Lines with Diné Textiles

Diné weaving is not just a way of making textiles – it is also a form of artistic expression in its own right. Requiring specialised tools, knowledge, and skills, practitioners of this historic weaving style strive to create a unified whole out of contrasting colours and designs. This exhibition showcases more than 30 textiles and related items, including historical and contemporary weavings, alongside materials, tools, digital prints, photographs, and other immersive media, all serving to invite a deeper understanding of Diné artistry and ways of knowing, past, present, and future.  

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe / Through 2 June 2024

Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now

A Spanish colonial leather chest from Mexico (Photo: New Mexico History Museum)

This exhibition explores more than 500 years of history, focussing on New Mexico’s earliest inhabitants through to its residents today. Stories are told through artifacts, videos, photographs, computer interactives, and oral histories that highlight the state’s rich cultural diversity. Together, these stories breathe life into the people who made the American West: Native Americans, Spanish colonists, Mexican citizens, Santa Fe Trail riders, fur trappers, outlaws, Buffalo Soldiers, railroad workers, miners, scientists, hippies, artists, and photographers. Exhibition highlights include Native American pottery, baskets, and jewellery from pre-European contact; a halberd from about 1600 used by Spanish conquistadores in their conquest of Indigenous peoples; and an illustrated map of New Mexico from 1758.

New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe / Ongoing

Harwood Museum of Art Centennial

(Photo: Harwood Museum of Art)

Founded in 1923 by the Harwood Foundation, the Harwood Museum of Art is the second oldest art museum in New Mexico. Created to mark the museum’s centennial year, this exhibition takes visitors on a journey through its rich history and the role that art from Taos and its surroundings played in the larger artistic movements of the last century. Through a mix of historic and contemporary vignettes, it chronicles the evolution of this prestigious cultural institution. Exhibition touchstones include the cultural history of the land where the museum now stands, and the many roles the property has served since it was purchased back in 1916.

Harwood Museum of Art, Taos / Through January 2024

The Nature of Glass

2017.6.2 Frederick Hammersley, Self portrait, 1957, stained glass on magnesite, 8 1/2 × 8 in. Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art. Gift of Frederick Hammersley Foundation, 2017 (2017.6.2). (Photo: New Mexico Museum of Art)

Durable and resilient, yet at the same time delicate and fragile, glass has been used as an artistic medium for thousands of years. This exhibition explores the technical and material nature of glass, its natural qualities, and how artists working with glass have engaged the natural world as content for their creative endeavours. It features a broad representation of artistic approaches to glass, exploring techniques including blown glass, hotwired glass, etched glass, assemblage with glass, sand carved-glass, cast glass, kiln-formed glass, stained glass, with an eye on how these various methods can inform the aesthetics of an art object.

New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe / Through 31 December 2023

Georgia O’Keeffe: Making a Life

Widely considered one of the most significant artists of the 20th century, American modernist painter and draftswoman Georgia O’Keeffe – who lived in New Mexico until her death in 1986 – had a prolific career spanning seven decades. Renowned for her contribution to modern art, her work remained largely independent of major art movements. This exhibition explores O’Keeffe’s identity as a “Maker” – an individual who carefully curated her life, personal style and artistic practice. It showcases art and objects that exemplify her way of living and creating, including books, furniture, artist’s materials, clothing, and accessories.

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Multiple venues in Santa Fe & Abiquiu / Through 15 November 2024