A visit with Kevin Box at his studio in Cerrillos, NM
This story was featured in the July 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art magazine July 2012 print edition here, or purchase the Southwest Art magazine July 2012 digital download here. Or simply click here to subscribe to Southwest Art magazine and never miss a story!
Describe your studio. It is a dream come true, newly constructed, functional, and sustainable. We have employed passive solar design, geothermal heating and cooling, and 100 percent wastewater recycling and irrigation along with cisterns to catch the rain. We are working on LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Best of all, it’s a 12-foot commute from my house.
Have you given the studio a name? It has now become the Turquoise Trail Sculpture Garden and Studio. My wife, Jennifer, and I are living our dream as we complete the first phase of building the home and studio. An ambitious future is planned to include studio casitas for artists-in-residence. That will take some time to realize, but we are helping it along.
How long have you planned the studio? Since we bought the property, which was about six years ago. We did a master plan of the 35-acre property, working with Taliesin and the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, in 2007 and began designing the building in 2010. I have seen a lot of other artists’ studios and taken good notes. Every time I move into a new space, the design improves and gets a little more efficient. This one is the best yet because I built it from scratch. The cabinet doors were one of the most important improvements in this studio. Sculpture requires a lot of tools and stuff, and it creates a lot of dust. Cabinet doors hide all the stuff and keep the dust on the floor. I use cargo containers located outside for storage of inventory, tools, and shipping materials. My friend and fellow sculptor Warren Cullar and I spent a lot of time brainstorming ideas and building models. I took classes at the local community college, and I did a lot of research. Our builder also contributed a lot. It’s the largest sculpture I have ever made.
What is the surrounding area like? The word “dramatic” does not do justice to the 25- to 50-foot-tall rock formations that surround the studio in an area known as the Little Garden of the Gods near Santa Fe, NM. The 6,000-foot altitude provides very dry, clear, clean air that is ideal for my work. It’s an ancient place that has supported the arts for years.
How does living in the Santa Fe area influence your work? Santa Fe is the second largest art market in the country. It keeps us busy. The sheer volume of collectors that move through Santa Fe provides enormous feedback, which I think is so important. I used to travel a lot more to find collectors, but in Santa Fe they come to you. And truly the climate here is something in itself. The high altitude affects you both physically and spiritually. I can work outside very comfortably in the summer, and we can travel in and out of New Mexico year-round without problems. That is important since we install work year-round all over the country. I have also incorporated stone into my work as a result of living here. It is a serious pain, but I love what the stones add to my work, and collectors respond really well to it.
Do you collect other artists’ works? Jennifer and I have developed a passion for collecting artwork together. We have works by Jim Budish, Louisa McElwain, Warren Cullar, Jane DeDecker, Phillip Vigil, Carol Gold, Alyson Kinkade, and Wayne Salge, plus a collection of black-and-white photographs. We really like to see how artists approach different subject matter.
What is your favorite subject matter? Life. Truth. Peace. Consciousness. And the dialogue between them. I use paper as a metaphor. I develop techniques for casting in bronze, stainless steel, aluminum—whatever metal is hot and pouring to preserve the ideas. I love the process of casting and art-making, but the content of the work has to be there if it’s going into metal.
Why are you drawn to origami as subject matter? My favorite thing is the symbolism. Every piece begins with the same uncut square of paper. Like life, it’s all in what we make it. Right now I’m working on the most important works of my career, combining origami and stainless steel. It fully describes my philosophy of intelligent design, evolution, and divine creativity all in one sculptural statement.
How has your work evolved since the beginning of your career? Well, I started out as a printmaker, and now I am a sculptor. I still work with paper every day, but it goes through a very different and long process before I am finished with it in metal. It surely lasts a lot longer, and I get to play outside.
If your studio was on fire, what is the one thing you would save? Since we now work in the same building, I would save my wife and my dogs. The sculptures would all survive.
What is the one place people will never find you? Taco Bell.
When people come to visit, where do you like to take them? We live on the Turquoise Trail, a National Scenic Byway with amazing things along the whole route from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. An amazing day trip could lead you to the oldest turquoise mine in North America, ancient Pueblo sites, and the Cerrillos Turquoise Mining Museum. You can also see Madrid, an old ghost town-turned-artist colony where the movie Wild Hogs was filmed. It is full of fun, funky shops and some great food, too. The Hollar restaurant in Madrid cooks the best burger I have ever eaten. They use a biscuit for the bun.
Columbine Gallery, Loveland, CO; Selby Fleetwood Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Dragonfly Fine Arts Gallery, Oak Bluffs, MA; Vickers Collection, Aspen, CO; Vail Village Arts, Vail, CO; Craighead Green Gallery, Dallas, TX; Thornwood Gallery, Houston, TX; Lovetts Gallery, Tulsa, OK; Galeria Pez Gordo, Los Cabos, Mexico; Ramey Fine Art, Palm Desert, CA; Dolce Gallery, Telluride, CO.
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