James Drake: Anatomy of Drawing and Space (Brain Trash)
September 29, 2016 – January 8, 2017
Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Gallery

Sponsored by Susan Foote and Stephen Feinberg

James Drake (American, b. 1946 in Lubbock, Texas) 
Anatomy of Drawing and Space (Brain Trash) Installation image, 2012- 2014, 
charcoal, graphite, pencil, ink, watercolor, collage, tape, and mixed media on archival paper. 
Courtesy of the artist, Moody Gallery, and Arthur Roger Gallery. Photo by Phillip Scholz Ritterman. © 2016 James Drake/2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

From September 24, 2016, to January 8, 2017, the EPMA will present a recent exciting body of work by James Drake, an artist with El Paso connections who has several works in the EPMA collection, and who has garnered international acclaim and is now based in Santa Fe. Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, James Drake: Anatomy of Drawing and Space (Brain Trash) is the culmination of two years of active creation revisiting and reinventing imagery from throughout the artist’s forty-year career. In 2012, Drake committed himself to drawing every day. The resulting 1,000+ drawings are tacked together directly on the wall to make up wall-sized “chapters,” so that the work can be appreciated as monumental compositional ensembles and also individually sheet by sheet. The artist’s diverse images range from wild animals to scientific formulae and from personal portraits to art historical figures, a variety that is complemented by his array of drawing materials as well as by his diversity of stylistic approaches and poetic or deadpan moods.

Click below to listen to the artist and the exhibition:

Wayne Hilton's Hermosos Huesos
Through January 8, 2017
Dede Rogers Special Events Gallery

Wayne Hilton (American, b. 1968)
La novia de fantasía (The Fantasy Bride), 2014
Mixed media, 81” x 32” x 28” 
Courtesy of the artist

Area artist Wayne Hilton has now devoted several years to the conception and realization of his vibrant series of calavera catrina figures, entitled Hermosos Huesos, many of them inspired by the prints of the late nineteenth-century Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada, whose imagery was key to the initial popularization of the calavera figure in Mexico. One of the works in the present exhibition, The Bride, debuted at EPMA in fall 2013 for that year’s Día de Los Muertos celebrations. Now she joins her sisters in an exhibition featuring thirteen works of the now completed series. Using primarily found objects and recycled materials, Hilton intends through the variety of elements he incorporates in his Hermosos Huesos to evoke curiosity and familiarity for viewers. Three years and over five thousand hours of intricate detailing have been devoted to these sculptural, mixed-media works, representing a commitment to both artistic expression and execution. The central figure in each work is inspired by La Calavera Catrina, Posada’s most recognized illustration portraying the elegant female skeleton. Embracing themes of political satire, religion, sensationalized news, cultural mores, and sexuality, Hilton’s Hermosos Huesos draw on the narratives Posada himself expressed in his more than twenty thousand illustrations. Individually and collectively, the pieces in this series are intended to surprise, delight, intrigue, and question our concept of the afterlife.

Female Saints and Heroes
Through November 6, 2016
Dorrance and Olga Roderick Gallery

Anonymous (Mexican, 19th century)
Saint Hedwig, early 19th century
Oil on tin, 13 ¾” x 10”
Gift of Dr. Steven McKnight in honor of Frank and Sara McKnight
Collection of El Paso Museum of Art

The upcoming retablo exhibition focuses on an uncommon retablo subject, the representation of female saints. The El Paso Museum of Art has become the second largest repository of 19th-century Mexican retablos in the United States, with a collection of 900. Out of the entire retablo collection only 5% showcase female saints as the main subject. Though the subject matter is considered hard to find in retablo art, it is an important theme present in the Museum’s collection. Female Saints and Heroes celebrates the piety, wisdom, and physical suffering of female saints and also highlights their influence on the lives of 19th-century Mexican women.  

Devotional images created in the 19th century of female saints were specifically targeted towards a female audience. They were used as practical role models and served to reassure the viewer that she could achieve an intimate spiritual association with Christ. Female saints were portrayed in retablos in a manner that would illustrate the accomplishments of the saints’ labor and determination and highlight their purity and connection with God. Female Saints and Heroes includes the representation of ten saints who encompass this idea: Saint Anne, Saint Barbara, Saint Hedwig, Saint Helen, Saint Gertrude the Great, Mary Margaret Alacoque, Saint Rita of Cascia, Saint Rosalie of Palermo, Saint Teresa, and Saint Wilgefortis/Saint Librada.

A special feature of this exhibition is the representation of women in ex-votos. Ex-votos are narrative images displayed publicly in churches or shrines and used to commemorate a miracle and give thanks to a particular religious figure. They usually include an image of the saint being thanked and a portrayal of the person who commissioned the retablo. The depiction of female donors in ex-votos is important because it showcases women as patrons of the arts in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It also provides proof that commissioning art was an important aspect in the devotional life of Mexican women.    

The existing EPMA retablo collection has come from a variety of sources, but most importantly thanks to gifts from the following major patrons: Nancy Hamilton, Dorrance and Olga Roderick, Frank and Sara McKnight, as well as the McKnight couple’s children, Dr. Steven McKnight, Elizabeth McKnight Manning, and Nancy McKnight Howell. This retablo exhibition celebrating an uncommon category of retablo art represents a continuation of this generosity within one of the most important realms of our institution’s collection and collecting mission.

Modern Stone Totems
Through December 2016
Mac Rogers Fine Arts Gallery



Modern Stone Totems is a new exhibition of abstract yet figuratively suggestive sculptures installed in early December in the recently named Mac Rogers Fine Arts Gallery.  Variously composed of different types of granite, limestone, marble, and onyx, and dating from 1971 to 1990, the four totem-like modernist stone sculptures entered the EPMA collection as gifts or purchases from 1971 to 2011. The unique surfaces and forms of each piece invite individual study, while their installation together in the space of the Mac Rogers Fine Arts Gallery proposes a dialogue between the works’ muted colors and between their evocative silhouettes. 

The first of these sculptures to enter the collection was The Eagle, carved in 1971 by the Mexican painter and sculptor Leonardo Nierman (born 1932), and gifted by the artist the same year. At first glance the work might suggest the extremely simplified profile of a standing human figure, but then we can observe the sidewise soaring eagle indicated by the title. The sleek and waxy surfaces of this delicately and naturally fissured piece might recall the purified natural forms and contours in the work of Romanian-born French modernist sculptor Brancusi, while its fragile white onyx material transmits light in subtle ways when struck by the sun’s rays through the lobby windows. The other three sculptures in this elegant ensemble were created by American sculptors with strong Texas connections: Song Bird (1963) by Ben Woitena (born 1942); Guardian (1988) by Jill Sablosky (born 1954); and Ellipse (1990) by Jesús Moroles (born 1950). Song Bird was the latest addition to the collection, gifted in 2011 by the previous EPMA director, Becky Duval Reese, and her husband. Fashioned from Georgia gray marble, Song Bird leaves angles of the original rectangular stone slab intact, which encourages us to consider how the artist liberated his forms, and also frames and underlines the compositional sense of ascendant thrust. The sculpture by Jesús Moroles, Ellipse, features Moroles’s favorite medium, granite (in this case, Italian and Texan granites), a material he poetically considers “the core and heart of the universe.” And finally, Sablosky’s multi-piece Guardian incorporates Trani marble with Indiana, Cordova, Fossil, and Leuders limestones. While the varied textures and forms of these four sculptures hint at tactile pleasures and encourage us to imagine their carving, each of them also resembles a modern totem pole, encouraging us to walk between them and consider their potential shared, separate, and suggested meanings.