By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
Eastern New Mexico University’s Runnels Gallery in the Golden Library has been an art staple in the community, not just at the university.
The space provides a home for a variety of artwork to be shared with students and the community, and features an array of artists that includes locals.
Runnels Gallery Manager Bryan Hahn said about nine exhibits are featured each year. Hahn is tasked with deciding who and what will be featured, and says he tries to display mixed media with a variety of paintings, drawings, ceramics and installation shows.
The room is named after former New Mexico Congressman Harold Runnels, who bequeathed a portion of his estate to the school.
The Runnels room, which is tucked in the back left corner of the library, was turned into a gallery after members of the school’s Art Department made the suggestion.
“The library was receptive to it,” said Hahn. “The space has been used as a gallery for 20 years … The library is truly a steward of art.”
Hahn reviews a variety of works from artists and often times selects juried shows to be featured, which usually consist of a panel of established faculty and art community members judging what will be used in the show.
“They have expertise in that area,” Hahn said of the juries that judge the submitted works. “It’s a real honor for an artist if you get chosen. It’s noteworthy if the panel has someone with a known name.”
How much a show costs holds a lot of weight in Hahn’s decision to feature a show, among other elements.
“One of the biggest factors is cost, and where the artists is from, and how to get their work here,” Hahn said. “Not everyone is free. When you get to a place where you’re well-known, your stuff is not free.”
Hahn operates on an annual budget of about $7,500.
A few of his favorite exhibits included Kansas photographer Sherwin Rivera Tibayan, who in turn did a master workshop in photos. The photos of that community workshop were then used in another exhibit.
“It was a show that derived from the workshop,” Hahn said. “The guy had an interesting perspective.”
Another exhibit he enjoyed featured the results of a community outreach project between ENMU students, alumni and area youth.
“It was an art project that explored primary and secondary colors,” Hahn said.
The most recent exhibit, which debuted Wednesday, features the work of Santa Fe artist Patricia Pearce.
The exhibit is titled “Artifact and Alchemy.” The mixed media artist is the director of book art and printmaking as well as a professor at Santa Fe Community College.
The exhibit will feature 10 pieces and will have 2-D and 3-D imaging.
“It’s definitely a sharp departure from the other work this semester,” Hahn said. “Patricia herself is a bundle of energy and it’s reflective of her work.”
Art Department intern Betsi Ordonez Santos said she took a workshop with Pearce on print design. Santos said she worked with monoprints.
“(Pearce) does all sorts of crazy, wild stuff. Her work is off the wall, literally,” Santos said.
Santos was tasked with getting the gallery ready for the exhibit and got a chance to see Pearce’s work before the show opened.
“She does a lot of assemblages. She has a lot of sass,” she said.
The latest exhibit
- What: Artifact and Alchemy exhibit by Santa Fe artist Patricia Pearce
When: ENMU Golden Library hours from now until Nov. 22.
Where: ENMU’s Runnels Gallery in the Golden Library