Above: S.M. Chavez's Young Cowhand, Masked is one of 10 pieces featured in the virtual exhibit.

“ART REALLY REMINDS US that we are not alone,” says New Mexico Museum of Art Assistant Curator Jana Gottshalk.  

With the idea of bringing the museum to the people when they can’t come to the museum, Gottshalk curated a virtual exhibit, Now!, set to open on the museum’s social media channels at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 18.  With almost 200 submissions in just a few short weeks, Gottshalk was a bit overwhelmed by the quantity and quality. “There was such a great response,” she says.  

Eventually she whittled down the crowd-sourced entries to 10 pieces that best embodied the theme from artists living and creating in the Land of Enchantment. Featured artists, working in a range of mediums, include Alvin Gill-Tapia, Cristina Sanchez, and S.M. Chavez.  

We caught up with Gottshalk for a preview of what to expect from Now!

On the theme: “Because of the situation we are all in, I chose the theme ‘now.’ I felt like that could be interpreted in many ways. I wasn't asking them to comment on the coronavirus, but to have a conversation about how they’re feeling in isolation. What this means for their art practice. What are you doing to keep yourself sane?”  

On the challenges of curating a virtual exhibit: “There was definitely a learning curve. There was a lot to choose from, so much! Now can be interpreted in so many ways, so I wanted to give a broad range of what I interpret as  ‘now’ but keep in mind that people see it different ways.”  

On a piece that stood out: “The cowboy in the face mask [by landscape painter S.M Chavez]. I thought that was really interesting because it felt like a classic, old Western painting with this contemporary addition. It could almost be jarring, but also really intriguing. I also really loved the one [by painter Andrea Lozano] that’s called Value Our Elders. It’s this really beautiful portrait of a woman, and it’s something we really need to focus on, taking care of each other.” 

On how the changes brought on  by the pandemic are reflected in the submissions: “There was this really interesting balance of chaos and calm coming from the act of solitude. I didn’t expect that but in revisiting it, I realized that’s exactly what is happening. It shows the variety of emotion we’re all having, and how we’re choosing to process that.” 

On the kinds of conversations happening in the submissions:  “There were a few self-portraits submitted, and one I included. It struck me as this idea that you really have a lot of time with yourself right now, so it felt really obvious, making a self-portrait. We’re all in the same situation, and this is our way of having a conversation that reminds us that we’re in this together and we’re all going through the same thing.”