‘Atomic Surplus’ Explores Legacy of Bomb

A piece by Tony Price made from parts found at The Black Hole in Los Alamos. Courtesy photo
One of the pieces featued in the major group exhibition of ‘Atomic Surplus.’ Courtesy photo

CCA News:

Atomic Surplus opens with a reception 6-8 p.m. today at the Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA) Muñoz Waxman Galleries, 1050 Old Pecos Trail in Santa Fe.

The show continues noon to 5 p.m., Thursday-Sunday through Jan. 5.

Atomic Surplus is a multi-faceted project that examines what it means to live in the birthplace of the atomic bomb. Through art that addresses not only New Mexico identity, but also the larger realms of science, environment, war, activism, fear and hope, Atomic Surplus will consist of a major group exhibition; a sub-exhibition of historic artworks; a film series; a lecture series; hands-on, field-based children’s education program; essay-driven exhibition catalog; and online archive.

Through a multi-pronged approach and working with diverse partners, Atomic Surplus illustrates a diversity of perspectives on the nuclear legacy. The project not only references historical moments and regional connections, but uses New Mexico and the WWII-era as a touchstone for looking at much more global and contemporary consequences.

As centerpiece of the Atomic Surplus project, this group exhibition sets the tone for its auxiliary programs and publications. The work of 12 international artists represents a variety of topics and viewpoints. Presented in various media, the artworks depict everything from the first atomic bomb tests to nuclear waste facilities to the thriving wildlife in Chernobyl to the meltdown in Fukushima to the promise of nuclear power. Atomic Surplus does not take a position on the nuclear issue, but exposes audiences to a range of imagery and ideas. A color catalog accompanies the exhibition, with short essays from artists, scholars, historians, and others.

The exhibit in the Living Room Gallery features historic photographs from the Los Alamos Historical Society Archive. These pictures remind audiences of the people, the lifestyles, the landscapes, and historic context behind the making of the atomic bomb. Books and videos from the Historical Society, alongside artist catalogs, and other relevant materials make up the Living’s Rooms self-service resource center. Thanks to a grant from New Mexico Arts, CCA makes the PBS series Art21 available for viewing on demand.

Join the CCA in celebrating the new Cinematheque lobby and the colorfully chromatic works by Tim Jag. Discuss the work with the artist in person, as he paints vibrant geometric forms before your eyes. The pieces created on site will be available to exhibition visitors.

Tony Price and The Black Holeis on display in the Project Space. Price was so horrified by the bomb’s potential that he committed his life to making art with a meaning. Through his “atomic art” Price formed a friendship with Ed Grothus, a machinist and technician for the Los Alamos Laboratory and, later, the owner of The Black Hole, a surplus store of objects and materials from the Los Alamos Labs.  

Price was one of The Black Hole’s most devoted customers and his work, made from nuclear detritus, is celebrated and collected worldwide. Tony Price and The Black Hole presents historic ephemera from the Black Hole as well as never-before-seen work from Tony Price’s estate.

In the Workshop Space, see Nuclear Age Vintage Ads. Archivist and librarianMegan Prelinger presents 13 images from industrial advertising that relate to nuclear technology. The images date from between 1953 and 1963, a time of extremely rapid identity development for nuclear industries. Twelve out of these images are magazine advertisements that appeared in industrial trade journals; the last is the cover of an exhibit catalog. The advertisements were designed by artists and represent physics and the nuclear industry in graphically fascinating ways.

To learn more about the exhibit and CCA, visit http://ccasantafe.org/.


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