ARTcollectors' in Asia

Interview: An exhibition of Japanese Contemporary Art will be held in SANTA FE, this summer!


Category: interview


Santa Fe may perhaps have a strong image of Georgia O’Keeffe for Japanese art fans. Actually,  it has the third largest share of the art market in the U.S.A after Los Angeles and in first place, New York. 

This is the evidenced by the fact that the town of 80000 people has 250 galleries.

n the summer season, many people including celebrities come to Santa Fe from all parts of the U.S.A. to avoid the heat, and the art scene there becomes especially active.

This summer, one of these galleries in Santa Fe, ZANE BENNETT CONTEMPORARY ART will hold “Impacts! 勢み”, a collection of  Japanese contemporary art, followed by a Japan Art Festival to introduce Japanese culture. What kind of “ Impact” will Japanese contemporary art give to Santa Fe ?

We asked Sandy Zane, Ned Bennett and Shinji Ochiai from ZANE BENNETT CONTEMPORARY ART during their visit to Japan.

-- When we looked at the home page of ZANE BENNETT CONTEMPORARY ART, it is a very beautiful space, with an open ceiling space and a large exhibition area.

It looks like you represent many masters of 20th century art. Why have you planned to have a show of Japanese contemporary art?

Sandy: We have three categories of artists in the gallery. The gallery has now been open 8 years and the first category is secondary market. We have a collection of around 5000 print works by famous artists.

Next, we have European international artists, especially from France and Italy. Third, artists in Santa Fe and the neighboring area.

So it is the first time to show artists from Asia, Japan. 

ZBCA is regarded as one of the top three galleries in New Mexico.

We have an exhibition almost every month, but the exhibitions we hold in summer always draw the most attention. The New York galleries don’t tend to feature their main represented artists in their summer shows, but Santa Fe is the opposite – because people from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and so on often spend summer vacations visiting Santa Fe and seeing the art scene here. That means the summer exhibitions are really important for us. So we are excited to be collaborating with Mizuma Art Gallery to introduce artists at the vanguard of Japanese contemporary art.

Installation view

-- You will be exhibiting a total of 17 artists including O JUN, Tanada Koji and Kondoh Akino. Is there any one artist amongst them that has particularly caught your attention?

Sandy: Firstly Eguchi Ayane, and also Ishihara Nanami and Amano Yoshitaka. In America there are many art collectors in their 60s and 70s. To cultivate new collectors and those of younger age-groups, I have really noticed the potential of those artists I just mentioned.
We are experiencing a growth in sales over the internet, so even though we show artists in our Santa Fe space, the enquiries we receive are global. That is to say – we can still significantly spread awareness of Japanese artists through showing them in Santa Fe.

-- In Santa Fe, is Japanese contemporary art still relatively unknown?

Sandy: Yes. In Santa Fe, there has been almost no connection at all with not just Japan but the whole Asian market. Of course Asian art has been shown on a small scale occasionally, but it is certainly not established as part of the art business here. To create a market for it here, it is vital not just to exhibit the art but to really educate viewers. That`s why this time, to accompany the exhibition we are holding a Japanese tea ceremony as well as talk shows between participating artists and Japanese art specialistics, and so on. We will also have a live performance by artist Kato Ai.

In Santa Fe from August 18th there is a festival of Native American Indian arts and fashion called the “Indian Market”, which hosts more art events than anywhere else in the United States in summer. The “Site Santa Fe” biennial is also held at the same time. At a time when there will be more visitors than ever to Santa Fe, we plan to hold a “Japan Art Festival” introducing Japanese culture, including this exhibition. By titling the show “Impacts! 勢み”, we hope viewers will be a surprised and amazed by what they see.

Installation view

-- It seems you also plan to exhibit film works too. Can you explain specifically what kind of films you will screen?

Shinji: Firstly, we will show three short film works by Kondoh Akino. In addition, beginning with the works of Kurosawa Akira, we hope to show representative Japanese movies as well as film artworks, and we are hoping to do so in a local theatre in Santa Fe. In fact, that theatre has a collection of Japanese films.

-- On this trip, have you only been exploring Japan?

Sandy: No, we have already surveyed a lot of contemporary Asian art: we visited Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and just arrived in Tokyo yesterday. Having seen so much artwork and had the chance to meet many artists, we hope to hold an exhibition of Asian art, including Japanese art, every year from now on.

Shinji: We are not looking at this purely from a market-oriented point of view. Rather, by aiming for fellowship and communication between the artists of Asia and Santa Fe, we hope this will lead to mutual inspiration.

-- Sandy and Ned, can you tell us a little bit about your own gallery?

Sandy: I was an artist myself a long time ago. I graduated from Bard College in the US, and in the 70s I held solo shows of my work in New York. Following that I stopped working as an artist, but I never lost the feeling of wanting to be engaged with art – so when I opened this gallery I finally felt like my dreams had become reality.

Ned: Sandy believes it is very important for young people to be taught about art, and for the people of the region to understand art’s value. So for her, it’s not just a business – it has become her life’s work. She has given students at her hometown community college the chance to design exhibitions by themselves and to really participate in the management of the gallery. So our gallery in the heart of Santa Fe can also really be seen as a place for enlightenment. Of course, the artist’s statement is the most important thing – but to really communicate the understanding of its message to a great number of people is crucial for us. 


Ms.Sandy Zane(middle), Mr.Ned Bennett(right) and Mr.Shinji Ochiai(left) from ZANE BENNETT CONTEMPORARY ART

[27th May, Mizuma Art Gallery]


DATE:25th July〜24th Aug

435 S Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM, USA

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