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flamencoFlamenco: From Spain to New Mexico

in the Hispanic Heritage Wing
Sunday November 22, 2015
to September 11, 2016

Known as a folkloric art form that began among the Gypsy people of southern Spain, this exhibition traces Flamenco to its arrival in the U.S. and its rise as an international art form now enjoyed by millions. The exhibition features costumes, play bills, instruments, and paintings, complemented by lectures, workshops and performances. Photo by Blair Clark)

Tracing flamenco's journey from fifteenth and sixteenth century Spain to twentieth century Europe's most cultured cities will be costumes both historic and contemporary, musical instruments, costume and set design sketches, playbills, sheet music, posters, and more. These objects chronicle flamenco's evolution from rural, folkloric tradition to elaborate staged productions incorporating extravagantly costumed dancers accompanied by virtuoso guitarists. The objects also trace flamenco's transition to recording studios and the silver screen permitting it to gain a massive popular audience.

Handed down from generation to generation, between family and community members living at society's edges, flamenco incorporates historic dance and music traditions from Roman times to the Arabic period. Flamenco expresses a way of life shaped by a multitude of cultural and regional influences such as the Gitanos (Romany people) of Spain and Andalusian regional customs. In 2010, UNESCO declared flamenco a Masterpiece of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

This exhibition also examines Spain's ferias and fiestas their introduction to the southwestern US, and the individuals who contributed to making flamenco a popular art form in this country. And as the exhibition title suggests, flamenco's integration into New Mexico's culture will be examined.

Exhibition curator Nicolasa Chávez said, "Flamenco is often considered an outward expression of one's innermost emotions, whether happy or sad, and carries with it an air of freedom or abandon." She noted that other exhibitions have only featured flamenco through photography and imagery while this exhibition explores flamenco as a multifaceted art form, a highly cherished performance art remaining true to its cultural roots and heritage. The exhibition is also the first ever to show the history and development of flamenco and its treasured role within the cultural milieu of New Mexico.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the book, The Spirit of Flamenco: From Spain to New Mexico, by Nicolasa Chávez (Museum of New Mexico Press, Jacketed hardbound $39.95 ISBN:978-0-89013-608-9, 192 pages, 86 color and 54 black-and-white photographs).

Sacred Realm:Blessings & Good Fortune Across Asia
In the Cotsen Gallery, Neutrogena Wing
Sunday February 28, 2015 to March 19, 2017 blessings

What more can we ask than for blessings and good fortune?  Whether perceived as miraculous boons or a response to ceremonious prayer, blessings and good fortune come in many forms and bring joy, comfort, and balance to our lives. God, deities, nature spirits, and other unseen forces exist in human belief, which can bring both great harm and great fortune to people on earth.  Almost universally, yet through varied means and belief systems, people have found ways to connect with these powers to bring stability to their lives, to divert ill-will and harm, and to attract love, fertility, prosperity, longevity, and safety ... essentially, to harness protection, blessings, and good fortune for themselves, their loved ones, and their communities. This exhibit invites visitors to explore some of the ways in which people seek and secure blessings and good fortune in Asia, a vast and culturally diverse region. Presented are amulets, votive offerings, and ritual objects – objects with other-worldly, divine qualities.  These intricate and thoughtfully made works of art are drawn mostly from the museum’s Asian collection and are exhibited together with unique media and engaging interactive gallery components.

"Sacred Realm” reflects wide-ranging practices of belief that, at the same time, depict the common human desire to attain balance and harmony in the physical and spiritual realms of life. Photo: Ancestor Spirit House, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Felicia Katz-Harris].

The Morris Miniature Circus: Return of the Little Big Top
In the East Bartlett Gallery
April 3, 2016–January 8, 2017
Morris Min CircusAfter 30 years, the beloved Morris Miniature Circus returns to the Museum of International Folk Art. Built over the course of forty years by W.J. “Windy” Morris (1904–1978) of Amarillo, Texas, the Morris Miniature Circus is a 3/8”-scale circus model that was acquired by the museum in 1984 and exhibited in 1986. In 2016, the museum will restore and install the Circus once again.

The Morris Circus is modeled after a 1930s “railroad circus,” back in the days when a circus would come to town by rail, set up in a day, perform for a local audience, then pack up and move on to the next venue. Morris fondly remembered the excitement that accompanied the arrival of the circus of his youth—with its steam calliope, horse-drawn circus wagons, and parade of performers and animals—and sought to preserve those memories when he began the Morris Circus in the 1930s. The Circus consists of an estimated 100,000 pieces, all made by Morris through a variety of techniques from woodcarving and painting to clay modeling and mold making. The return of the Morris Miniature Circus will be accompanied by a range of activities and public programs.

PHOTO: Detail of the Morris Miniature Circus, 1930s-1978, by W.J. “Windy” Morris (Amarillo, Texas). Gift of Mrs. Jo A. Ellett, Museum of International Folk Art (A.1984.433.1V)