NHCC Art Museum is full of modern wonders while creating fun for guests

Editor’s Note: On the fourth Sunday of each month, Journal Arts Editor-in-Chief Adrian Gomez tells the stories behind some of the hidden gems you can see across the state in “Gimme Five”.

Jadira Gurulé had time to familiarize himself with the permanent collection of the Museum of Art of the Hispanic National Cultural Center.

She rose through the ranks in her days as a volunteer and intern. She was officially hired as a curator in November 2016 and quickly created a sensation by organizing internationally renowned exhibitions.

“Barco Japonesa II”, Paula Castillo. (Courtesy NHCC Art Museum)

His vision is at the root of his current exhibition, “Mira, Mira on the Wall: Reflecting on 20 Years of NHCC Exhibitions”.

As the NHCC Art Museum is now open to the public, Gurulé chose five items from the entire collection that visitors should take more time with.

1. Paula Castillo, “Barco Japonesa II” (date unknown)

Gurulé says just to the left of the entrance to the NHCC Art Museum, in the most recent iteration of the exhibition in the museum’s permanent collection, “Aquí Estamos”, is a work titled “Barco Japonesa II” by Paula Castillo .

“It’s a bit small red sculpture,” she said. “At first glance, it appears to be made of leather or some other soft, flexible material rather than the steel from which it is actually made.” She says visitors may not be aware that Castillo also created the much larger steel sculpture, “Cuesta del Cielo,” which sits atop the NHCC Art Museum building.

“Cuesta del Cielo (2019)”, Paula Castillo. (Courtesy NHCC Art Museum)

“Cuesta del Cielo” was created to honor the contributions of Edward and Virginia Luján to OCNC since its founding.

2. Catalina Delgado-Trunk, “Saint Lucia and the Oracles (2004)”

In the northeast room of the NHCC Art Museum in the “Aquí Estamos” exhibit, there is a papel picado work of art by Catalina Delgado-Trunk titled “Saint Lucia and the Oracles”.

“Saint Lucia and the Oracles (2004)”, Catalina Delgado-Trunk. (Courtesy NHCC Art Museum)

“Saint Lucia is the patroness of the blind,” says Gurulé. “She is often depicted with a pair of eyes on a set which refers to certain accounts that her own eyes were removed. A little gruesome, yes, but if you take a close look at Delgado-Trunk’s artwork you might notice a tiny pair of plastic eyeballs coming back to you.

3. Nick Abdalla, “Emperor (2001)”

Gurulé says artist Nick Abdalla was an art professor for many years at the University of New Mexico.

“Emperor (2001)”, Nick Abdalla. (Courtesy NHCC Art Museum)

“Once a painter, he changed his artistic vision to include large-scale sculptures created from found and collected objects. It has a number of works of art in the permanent collection of the OCNC Art Museum and each one is vibrant and imaginative, ”she says.

During the installation of the OCNC Art Museum’s most recent exhibit, “Mira, Mira on the Wall: Reflecting on 20 Years of OCNC Exhibitions,” museum staff found themselves engaged in a debate. Which side of Abdalla’s sculpture, “The Emperor”, is the real “front” side?

“Each staff member explained their take on the sculpture – which ranged from a hybrid unicorn creature to a circus elephant – and in the end we settled on the idea that none of the works by Abdalla is not a thing, ”she said. “In fact, that’s a lot for a lot of people. Keep an eye out for a horned sculpture. What do you see in this work? “

4. Rachel Muldez, “Eta Carinae (2016)”

“Eta Carinae (2016)”, Rachel Muldez. (Courtesy NHCC Art Museum)

Gurulé says Rachel Muldez considers herself a professional walker and collects her art supplies on long walks. Later, she sorts the materials in her studio and begins to assemble her own sculptures, large and small, from these natural elements.

“Some of Muldez’s works of art are inspired by astronomy and space phenomena,” she says. “When you visit ‘Mira, Mira on the Wall: Reflecting on 20 Years of Exhibits at NHCC’, take the time to take a close look at Muldez’s sculpture, ‘Eta Carinae’. Then take a moment to search for images of the Eta Carinae nebula on your phone. Do you see the resemblance?

5. Jokes inside

Gurulé says the staff at the NHCC Art Museum love to sprinkle interior jokes throughout our exhibits.

Additionally, the staff are known to choose museum paint colors with names that are thematically related to the exhibits.

Image from the NHCC Art Museum team considering different garden-themed gardens for the “Southwest of Eden: The Art of Adam and Eve” exhibit. (Courtesy NHCC Art Museum)

For example, the color green in the current exhibit, “Southwest of Eden: The Art of Adam and Eve” is called “Garden Spot”.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the NHCC Art Museum, we decided to try naming our own paint samples, adding the occasional joke, and creating a bunch of museum graphics, Gurulé says.

Curator of the National Center for Hispanic Culture Jadira Gurulé

“For example, on a wall there is an image of a sample paint with the color ‘Arthun Orange’,” she says. “This color is named after a dear friend of the museum, Kim Arthun of Exhibit / 208 and Thirsty Eye, who has enthusiastically helped us install our vinyl wall lettering for many exhibits over the years. Keep an eye out for graphic paint samples. What would you name each color?


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Reggie S. Williams

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