The NHCC Art Museum is full of modern wonders while creating fun for guests ”Albuquerque Journal


ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Editor’s Note: On the fourth Sunday of each month, Arts Journal 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 herself with the permanent collection of the National Hispanic Cultural Center Art Museum.

She has come a long way since 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)

Her vision is behind her current exhibition, “Mira, Mira On the Wall: Reflecting on 20 Years of NHCC Exhibitions”.

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With the NHCC Art Museum now open to the public, Gurulé has selected five items from the entire collection with which visitors should take a little more time.

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

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

“It’s a bit small red sculpture,” she says. “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 the NHCC 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 that refers to certain accounts of having her own eyes removed. A little gruesome, yes, but if you look closely at Delgado-Trunk’s piece, you might notice a tiny pair of plastic eyeballs sticking out from you.

3. Nick Abdalla, “Emperor (2001)”

Gurulé says the 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 NHCC Art Museum and each one is vibrant and imaginative, ”she says.

During the installation of the NHCC Art Museum’s most recent exhibition, “Mira, Mira On the Wall: Reflecting on 20 Years of NHCC Exhibitions,” museum staff found themselves engaged in a debate. Which side of Abdalla’s sculpture, “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 at the end we settled on the idea that none of Abdalla’s works 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 nature walker and collects her art materials 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 are inspired by astronomy and space phenomena,” she says. “When you visit ‘Mira, Mira on the Wall: Reflection on 20 Years of NHCC Exhibitions’, take a moment to take a close look at Muldez’s sculpture, ‘Eta Carinae’. Then take a moment to search for Eta Carinae Nebula images on your phone. Do you see the resemblance?

5. Jokes inside

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

Additionally, the staff are known to have chosen museum paint colors with thematic names related to the exhibits.

Image from the NHCC Art Museum team considering different garden-themed greens for the exhibit, “Southwest of Eden: The Art of Adam and Eve”. (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 NHCC Art Museum’s 20th anniversary, we decided to try naming our own paint samples, adding an occasional joke to the interior, 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 paint sample 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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