This May, OTA Contemporary will celebrate its first anniversary. It was an exciting year. We featured numerous artists, many new to Santa Fe, through paintings, sculpture, holograms, new and mixed media as well as dance, music, and video. Our anniversary exhibition, titled Beginnings II, will feature the paintings, monotypes and digital works of Kiyomi Baird along with the steel and bronze sculptures of Robert Koch.
The sensibility of an artist like Kiyomi Baird, who straddles the cultures of East and West, is fascinating. While we long to uncover the story behind the work, we also yearn for - and treasure - the mystery. Moving with a well-honed facility between painting, printmaking, and digital media, Kiyomi invites us into a place of physical and spiritual freedom.
From the box of artist materials given to Kiyomi at a young age by her father in California, to the years spent in Tokyo, events have shaped an aesthetic that harmoniously balances the corporal and the spiritual, the East and the West, the visible and the hidden. When Kiyomi was a young student at the University of California, Berkeley, she worked in the Metallurgy research department. The images that she discovered through the electron microscope were like richly patterned and textured universes. This love of pattern and texture would lead Kiyomi to use materials such as gesso and sand in her work. The move to Europe was critical to her development. While painting in Berlin at the age of 20, she experienced a shift in consciousness that would change her life and affects her work to this day. Starting from this time we find a recurring symbol in her work - the circle. The perfect unity of this symbol represents both the physical and the spiritual with no beginning or ending in time. Later while living in Japan, Kiyomi learned traditional Nihonga painting which spurred her to integrate the Eastern and Western parts of her being. While Nihonga painting aligns with traditional Japanese forms of illustration in its essential flatness, Kiyomi infuses Nihonga with texture and patterns that create a depth that draws the viewer into the work. She brilliantly entices us to enter a world of physical sensation, spiritual exploration and emotional liberation
Robert Koch has not exhibited in Santa Fe before, however his humbly elegant sculpture will certainly become a favorite. Beginnings II will include approximately 10 works: 8 large scale pieces, as well as 2 small-scale sculptures. Perfectly suited to the New Mexico landscape, these sinuous and tactile forms will live comfortably inside or outside. Totem, which rises to 6’4” tall, is of mild steel and echoes ancient symbols of the Southwest. Robert is a native of Pennsylvania and attended Kutztown University. His work recently received a place of honor in his adopted hometown of Jersey City. The Mack-Cali Realty Corporation has installed Robert’s nine large spheres in its new corporate headquarters, the Harborside Atrium. The orbs descend from the ceiling at various heights, and the dark globes of open metalwork are gloriously illuminated against the white glass ceiling.