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May 25, 1995
Press Articles :: Albuquerque Journal



Reprinted with permission from the Albuquerque Tribune "Art Works" 5/25/95

chasing clouds
By Lori J. Montoya
"TA MOHA THAK" is Ute for the guardian or sentry of the land that watches and protects Mother Earth. This is one of 30 palladium prints to be featured in David Michael Kennedy's exhibit at the Andrew Smith Gallery.
Things are looking up for photographer David Michael Kennedy. In his 18 years in New York, Kennedy said he was never moved to snap pictures of the bustling cityscape, focusing instead on portraits because in New York "your focus is three inches in front of your face," he said.

"But the openness in New Mexico is refreshing. Here your focus is as far as your eyes can see."

These days, Kennedy, 44, who has called New Mexico home for nine years, is pointing his lenses outward and skyward.

For his 1991 portfolio 'Cloudscapes of New Mexico," Kennedy chased clouds until dark, many times leaving him wondering where he was. Kennedy's latest work - including western landscapes, skyscapes and dancers from the Eight Northem New Mexico pueblos - will go on exhibit Friday at the Andrew Smith Gallery in Santa Fe. The show, which runs until June 26, is titled "Palladium Prints: 1992-1995."

"I'm seeing sudden changes in how the work is looking," Kennedy said from his ranch in Cerrillos, where he lives with his wife, Lucy, son Jessie, his horse, and a bunch of dogs. "This is the first time I feel incredibly comfortable with the work, like I really like it."

Perhaps it's the closeness Kennedy feels to the culture of the American Indian. Though not Indian himself, he's been involved in such issues since the '60s.

He and his wife were involved with the American Indian Movement working with Leonard Peltier and becoming good friends with him. Kennedy's wife is part American Indian.

Kennedy's work on the dancers from the eight northern New Mexico pueblos will eventually be reproduced in eight or nine photography portfolios on Indian dancers. Kennedy next plans to photograph Lakota dancers from South Dakota.

The portfolios will include eight to ten dance images featuring traditional costumes and dances, a title page written by him and an introduction written by Elders and Spiritual leaders from the tribe. Later, the pictures will be divided into tribes, all finally compounded into one book. Abram, the publishing company, is anticipating a spring '96 release, though Kennedy said he is less optimistic since it's taken him two years to get the full cooperation of the tribal people just to shoot the eight Northern Pueblo photographs.

"It took a while for them to trust me," he said. "They'd look behind me to see what I was hiding behind my back because they've been ripped off so much for so many years.

"But it was important to me and that was the only way to do it. And I wanted to ensure some of the money went back to the pueblos."

The pueblos will receive 10 percent of the sales. They also have the rights to use the photographs for any purpose: a poster for the arts and crafts fair, greeting cards, perhaps. Kennedy will receive nothing from those.

In between, Kennedy continues to do editorial and album cover work and takes his photographs, wherever the clouds take him.

Gallery moves to a new location near the Plaza

The Andrew Smith Gallery is moving from Santa Fe's plaza after 10 years in an upstairs location.
Its new location is 203 W. San Francisco St., between the Eldorado Hotel and the plaza.
An opening gala runs from 4-7 p.m. Friday at the new location. The decision to move the gallery, which for 21 years has featured the works of acclaimed photographers, came because the lease ran out and we didn't have a choice of renewing," associate director John Boland said.
But the move couldn't be better. "We were lucky to find a street-level location," Boland said. "Now the museum will be more accessible and, with the big window, people can shop 24 hours a day." Upcoming events include works by Jack Della and Annie Leibovitz. Call 984-1234 for more information.