Issue #193  7/11/2012
Miguel Gandert: "Saints and Sinners" Opens At Andrew Smith Gallery

The Andrew Smith Gallery's 2012 summer season kicks off with the exhibit, "Saints and Sinners: Rituals of Penance and Redemption," by award-winning New Mexican photographer Miguel Gandert, which opened May 25 and runs through July 30, 2012 at the gallery's 122 Grant Avenue, Santa Fe, NM address.

Gandert has signed copies of the new book "In the Country of Empty Crosses: The Story of a Hispano Protestant Family in Catholic New Mexico" by Arturo Madrid with 80 photographs by Miguel Gandert. In addition to the trade copy published by Trinity University Press, San Antonio, there is a special limited edition of 100 books encased in a handsome slipcover that include an original print by Gandert.

Miguel Gandert was born in Española, New Mexico in 1956, a descendant of Spanish settlers of Mora, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado. Raised in Santa Fe, he began photographing in 1968, focusing on the lifestyles and traditions of rural and urban Hispanics living along the Rio Grande valley from Mexico to southern Colorado, especially the "barrio" culture in Albuquerque as well as northern New Mexico villages. Gandert's common ancestry with his subjects has produced an insider's view of contemporary Hispanic culture which despite change, maintains deep roots in the past.

Over the last four decades Gandert has compiled a monumental document of Hispanic religious life, Hispanic artists, dwellers on the Mexican/American border, and confluences of Spanish Colonial and Mesoamerican indigenous traditions. In "Saints and Sinners: Rituals of Penance and Redemption," he has enlarged his photographic document of the sacred and secular rituals of Mestizo people of the Rio Grande corridor that first appeared in his book Nuevo México Profundo: Rituals of an Indo-Hispano Homeland.

For 300 years the 1500 mile Camino Real was the trail of colonization by Spain, and the route traveled by thousands of settlers from Mexico and Spain, as well as by priests and friars who converted native peoples and built Spanish missions that are still in use today.

In Mexican cities and villages along the Camino Real Gandert photographed contemporary rituals and festivals that over time have blended aspects of Spanish Colonial with Mesoamerican traditions in reenactments of the Passion of Jesus, medieval conflicts between the Christians and the Moors, and Colonial New World battles between the Spanish and Native Indians. Participants in these dramas assume the role of historical and allegorical characters, acting out the struggle between perceived good and evil in rituals that often end with the transformation of evil into good. Gandert's photographs convey the wonder and mystery of the ancient rituals, often transcending ethnographic documents to become timeless works of art.

The exhibit at Andrew Smith Gallery contrasts Gandert's photographs taken of rituals in Mexico with similar events in New Mexico.

Gandert's exhibitions include a one-man show at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian in 1990; the 1993 Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art; and the opening exhibit in 2000 of the National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico. He and his wife live in Albuquerque, NM, where he is the Distinguished Professor of Communication and Journalism at the University of New Mexico, as well as the director of UNM's Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media Program.

Andrew Smith Gallery, Inc. is located at 122 Grant Avenue, Santa Fe, NM 87501. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm. The phone number for the gallery is 1-505-984-1234.