The Center for Contemporary Arts
The Center for Contemporary Arts, a hub of art and culture within Santa Fe, is on a mission to reinvigorate its gallery space with the help of young artists in the community to promote local art. “We show contemporary art from New Mexico…for New Mexico,” Stuart Ashman says. Ashman is the newly appointed executive director of CAA and oversees the cinema and the many various art installations that take place throughout each year.
The gallery building will soon to be renamed the The Tank Garage at CCA, due to the fact that the CCA was originally a military ground and the space where the gallery now resides was once a tank maintenance space. The Tank Garage at CCA will feature the Muñoz/Waxman Gallery, the Specter/Ripps Project space and The Living Room. As it is, the gallery only serves about 20 percent of CCA’s visitors, the majority of whom are much younger than the audience the cinema at CCA receives.
Ashman expresses a desire for the gallery space to expand with the help of its younger audience by bringing them on board CCA. While CCA is a great gallery for up and coming New Mexican artists to showcase their work, it also has multiple volunteer and internship opportunities. Young artists can apply to work alongside Ashman in directing the center, landscaping, becoming a visitor associate or even getting hands-on experience in installation setup including handling and storing work. “It’s a great place to develop a career,” Ashman says. “You get to be around art.”
The combined efforts of staff and volunteers create a professional environment at CCA. Volunteer visitor associates greet guests, answer questions about the galleries and get to spend entire days surrounded by stunning installations. Not only does CCA offer plentiful experience but the center also offers the chance for volunteers to showcase their own work. Ashman believes that young artists will define the future of the artist community in New Mexico. “There has been an influx of younger [artists] coming to Santa Fe.” Ashman himself joined the Santa Fe art community in the 70s and have since developed a long history of art leadership including being the former secretary of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, Director of the New Mexico Museum of Art and Executive Director of the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art. Ashman expresses a nostalgic kinship with the city’s newest residents. “They keep the community vibrant.”
Robert Gaylor founded CCA in 1979 with the intention of showcasing work that was ahead of its time. Thirty-seven years later, the tradition of helping New Mexican artists make an impact in the contemporary art world remains, which is why Ashman believes it is necessary to introduce up-and-coming artists to the structural side of such a career. “It’s very rare that an artist can spend all day in their studio and make a living,” Ashman says. “The ability to work in an institution needs to be developed. You are in this artistic community and you should take every opportunity you have to understand it.”
CCA caters to approximately 65,000 visitors every year and currently showcases the first solo exhibition of native New Mexican Robert Williams, “Slang Aesthetics.” Beginning in 2017, CCA welcomes Jill O’Bryan and Madelin Coit to the gallery space. Potential internship candidates should send Ashman a resume and exhibit a passion not only for their own work but the works of others within the community.