by Madeleine Ahlborn | firstname.lastname@example.org
THE San Luis Valley Museum on Hunt Avenue participates in the annual Art Walk here in Alamosa. Though the walk itself was only a weekend long event, the museum has two local artists featured, Kendall McNeilsmith and Wesley Buniger, for an extended period of time.
I was greeted by Jeff Myers, administrative assistant for the museum. Jeff toured me around, shedding light on the current
Art Walk installations paired with a more detailed description of other local artists who are part of the museum’s permanent collection.
I said to Jeff; “I think the last time I was in the museum was for a First Friday Art Hop many years ago, but I did not take the time to wander through the space. Is there a specific layout in the museum that describes a timeline in any way?”
There is not a “formal” timeline to follow but that is what makes this museum unique is that, with Jeff’s presence and ability to tell a story, the experience is that of a “living”museum. Even though there are not any interactive artifacts (look don’t touch) the paired narrative brought me into this other world, or rather, opened a new lens into the San Luis Valley.
I continued to wander between glass cases of history as he helped an out of state couple who walked in the front doors. I could hear stories being shared and questions being asked about Alamosa history, Native American artifacts, and of course the railroad.
Kendall McNeilsmith “is a local artist from Alamosa with BA degree in Fine Arts from Adams State University. Kendall’s highly influenced by the ‘low-brow’ art movement. His paintings offer a window inside the mind of an individual from an emotional perspective and the world around them. Spanning the gamut from the natural world to all forms and walks of life, his work is shaped by skateboard culture, music and the studies of science and history. His art has a direct and specific emotional content but leaves the viewer to interpret the work based on their own life experiences and understandings.”
I sent Kendall a message on instagram, a very informal interview, but a way to ask him about his thoughts on the show and why he chose the work he did for this exhibition.
Creative Citizen: How did you decide what pieces would be hung in the museum? You’re a very prolific artist.
Kenall: Those were just the most recent paintings I had done. Haven’t been very inspired this year partially because of being exhausted all the time because of work and just an overwhelming feeling of dread this past year.
CC: In your artist statement currently paired with the three paintings, you leave the viewer to “interpret the work based on their own life experiences and understandings.” Is this a standard approach in your art practice, or relative to these works in particular?
Kendall: The approach I mentioned in my artist statement rings true for these works and every work I’ve done in the past 10 years. There are different ideas and emotions I’m expressing in each painting but I feel like having that spelled out for the viewer distracts from their own experience and interpretation with the piece.
Jeff shared with me that McNeilsmith also has been a featured artist in the SLV Brewery, located on Main street in downtown Alamosa.
To see more of Kendalls work follow him on instagram @kendallmcneilsmith
I did not have the opportunity to speak with Wesley Buniger about this show in particular, but to hear more of Wesley’s story visit alamosacitizen.com and to listen to Episode 1 of the “Creative Citizen: The Unexpected Artist” podcast.
Top photo: Piece #1 (The Lovers) drawn with colored ink and colored pencil 2017.
His artist Bio reads “Wesley Buniger has been a lifelong artist going back 75 years. His diversity spans drawings, paintings, and sculptures. In school, he would commonly take 1st place in every art show he entered. His inspiration come from many artists, but especially impressionist influence from the late 19th century. Wesley is also an accomplished poet whose work Love Songs For Sky Children was actually nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.”
There are a few copies of Wesley’s book Love Song For Sky Children for sale there, and all proceeds are donated to the museum. If you have not been to the San Luis Valley Museum, whether you are from the Valley or a transplant from some place else, I highly recommend that you stop in for a visit. Admission is free for students, teachers and veterans, or otherwise a small fee of $5.