Museum of International Folk Art Albuquerque Museum
of Art and History
Albuquerque, NM
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The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History
2000 Mountain Road NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104
(505) 243-7255
(800) 659-8331


send questions to albuquerquemuseum@cabq.gov


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Behind Closed Doors: Art in the Spanish American Home, 1492–1898

Arte en la Charrería: The Artisanship of Mexican Equestrian Culture

African American Art from the Permanent Collection


March 29, 2014 – January 31, 2015

So many of us grew up watching I Love Lucy throughout the years, and we probably do our best to catch re-runs on TV whenever we get the chance. There is something about the nostalgia of it all that proves irresistible. But I bet that most of us never knew that one of this famous TV show’s beloved stars was actually an Albuquerque talent.

Everybody’s Neighbor: Vivian Vance features the history and popular culture of vaudeville star and actress Vivian Vance, who appeared regularly at Albuquerque Little Theater (ALT) and the KiMo. Vance, who spent part of her young adult life in Albuquerque, eventually won her most endearing role as Ethel Mertz on the TV situation comedy, I Love Lucy. The exhibition will be on view at the Albuquerque Museum from March 29, 2014 – January 31, 2015.

Vivian Roberta Jones, known as “Viv” to her friends and family, was born in 1909 in Cherryvale, Kansas. As a teenager she decided to pursue acting career, against the wishes of her religious mother, Mae. Vivian’s large family eventually moved to Albuquerque and Vivian and her husband Joe Danneck joined the Joneses. She found a job modeling clothes, but in 1930 she defiantly announced that she had landed a role in the racy vaudeville show, Cushman’s Revue, playing at the KiMo Theater. She traveled with the show, then returned to Albuquerque.

Under the guidance of ALT director Kathryn Kennedy O’Connor, Vivian appeared in the theater’s first two seasons. Convinced that she had potential, O’Connor and the theatre held a benefit in 1932 by selling tickets to The Trial of Mary Dugan. Critics raved, writing, “Whether Vivian Vance can make good in New York will be decided next month, but the Albuquerque actress…showed that she can make good before a hometown audience.” With the proceeds, O’Connor sent Vivian to New York to study under actress Eva Le Gallienne.

Soon Vivian started landing chorus roles, eventually graduating to supporting roles in Hooray for What! and Let’s Face it! with Danny Kaye and Eve Arden. In between productions Vivian returned to Albuquerque. Vivian always felt that she owed a debt of gratitude to the people of Albuquerque for supporting her early career, and returned often to appear at the ALT free of charge. By the early 1940s, Vivian was living in New York but had also purchased a small adobe ranch house in Cubero, west of Albuquerque near Grants.

Vivian then moved to California to work on film and theatre projects. While visiting the La Jolla Playhouse in
1951, Desilu Studios producer Desi Arnaz watched Vivian’s amazing performance as Olive Lashbrook in Voice of the Turtle. Convinced that she was perfect for the role of Ethel Mertz in I Love Lucy, Desi Arnaz brought Vivian into the studio for a surprise introduction to his wife and star of the show, Lucille Ball. Because of Vivian’s good looks, impeccable comedic timing and a street-smart sense of how to play to an audience, she shined throughout the run of I Love Lucy. The 1953 episodes brought her an Emmy® Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, with additional nominations in 1954, 1956, and 1957. I Love Lucy secured Vivian Vance’s place in television history. After a wondrous career in theater, film and television, the accomplished actress passed away in 1979. Many of her family members still live in New Mexico, and her sister Lou Ann holds local comedy workshops. Their stories, awards, photographs, and memorabilia contribute greatly to the exhibition, celebrating a small-town girl who hit the big-time.

Behind Closed Doors: Art in the Spanish American Home, 1492–1898
February 15- May 18, 2014

Behind Closed Doors: Art in the Spanish American Home, 1492–1898, which explores the private lives and interiors of Spain’s New World elite from 1492 through the nineteenth century. Behind Closed Doors primarily consists of works from the Brooklyn Museum’s world-renowned collections as well as exceptional loans from distinguished institutions and private collectors. Most of the objects in the exhibition are drawn from the Brooklyn Museum’s superb Spanish colonial holdings, supplemented by additional selections from the American, European, Asian, and Islamic collections as well as loans from public and private collections. The exhibition, which encompasses all of the New World under Spanish domination, calls attention to the Caribbean’s pivotal but, surprisingly, often overlooked role in Spanish American history.

Behind Closed Doors is the first major exhibition in the United States to explore the private lives, power struggles, and collecting practices of Spain’s New World elite. This opulent exhibition will be at the Albuquerque Museum from February 15 through May 18, 2014.

This important exhibition provides intriguing comparisons to social history here in New Mexico, once the Northern reaches of the Spanish colonies. According to Cathy Wright, Albuquerque Museum Director, “Behind Closed Doors is the perfect compliment to our local Spanish colonial history. The elite lifestyle and domestic objects in the exhibition illuminate our understanding of homes here in New Mexico such as the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, and Casa San Ysidro in Corrales. This exhibition of masterpieces from Latin America can teach us a great deal about our own heritage.”

When the Spanish empire first expanded into the Americas, the early settlers brought with them a rich artistic tradition, along with a monotheistic religion and an obsession with racial purity. Within a hundred years, fabulous fortunes had been amassed in the New World, thanks to the region’s abundant natural resources and robust market economy. Although Spanish America’s newly privileged class consisted of some of the wealthiest people in the world, the Spanish crown consistently favored those born in Spain for prominent local government and church positions, and political reforms in the eighteenth century further limited the power of Spaniards born in the colonies. In defiance, American-born elites responded by acquiring and ostentatiously displaying luxury goods from around the world in their dress and in their homes as pointed reminders of the crown’s reliance on New World resources. Their collections became more eclectic, including works by local artists and indigenous craftsmen as well as European and Asian masters. The exhibition, which features approximately 160 works, is structured around the organization of an elite Spanish colonial home, beginning with public reception rooms, hung with elaborately costumed family portraits and filled with fine imported and locally produced luxury goods, and ending with more private rooms, displaying objects that also spoke to the racial and social identity of their owners.

Among the exhibition highlights is a group of luxury objects from the viceroyalty of New Spain, which comprised present-day Mexico and Central America. One is an extremely rare, shell-inlaid and painted folding screen, or biombo enconchado, commissioned expressly for Mexico City’s viceregal palace about 1700 by Viceroy José Sarmiento de Valladares. Additional objects in the exhibition include eighteenth-century Chinese export porcelain bearing the coat of arms of one of colonial Mexico’s leading families, which indicate the global reach of the elite. The group portrait, Free Women of Color with Their Children and Servants in a Landscape, from about 1764–96, represents members of the mixed-race elite accompanied by their black slaves in the British colony of Dominica by Italian painter Agostino Brunias. In 1806 Francisco de Goya painted a monumental portrait of Peruvian-born Don Tadeo Bravo de Rivero, to introduce this member of a powerful Latin American family to the royalty and nobility of Spain.

Behind Closed Doors: Art in the Spanish American Home, 1492–1898 is organized by Richard Aste, Curator of European Art, Brooklyn Museum. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with texts by distinguished scholars in the field. Generous support for this exhibition has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum is made possible by REDW, LLC.

African American Art from the Permanent Collection
November 9, 2013 – May 4, 2014

This small installation in the Works on Paper gallery features drawings, prints, photographs, and paintings by African American artists who live in New Mexico, or have been inspired by the region. The diverse assembly include rarely exhibited treasures from the collection such as prints by Albuquerque based Rhein Whit-Pritchett, a monumental drawing by Santa Fe based Ron Adams, and a memory painting by Albuquerque artist Reginald Gammon. The installation will also feature recent acquisitions including an image from the series “Blacks in the West” by Los Angeles based photographer Tony Gleaton.

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