“Who doesn’t want a pony?” local curator Niomi Fawn asks. “And who doesn’t want a cute pony with braids in its hair doing fancy tricks?” Fawn refers to how her latest creation, Show Pony, a mobile “go-tique” (gallery/boutique), got its name. Fawn launched Show Pony in July of this year to make an accessible and inclusive public art space.
I meet the Pony, a trailer that went through a curated makeover, for the first time in a storage unit parking space (and I can't help but liken it to a horse stall). I step inside and am transported to an intimate gallery decked out with the work of 16 local artists including Israel Francisco Haros Lopez, Anastasio Wrobel and M Gold. Good things come in small packages, right?
As I do a 360-degree spin to take everything in, Fawn says, "This is a clubhouse on wheels." She's describing the feel of the tiny yet welcoming environment, where you can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers and feel comfortable talking about the artwork. "The inclusivity of this environment is about removing the idea that you have to be a certain way or have a certain amount of money to enter an art space," Fawn shares.
For the curation process, Fawn focuses on small-scale works to counterbalance the pressure some artists receive from galleries to go big; she seeks out the precious, intricate studies that sometimes only exist behind the scenes. "I want work that people want to live with everyday," Fawn says, "where they can say, 'Cool, I'm eating scrambled eggs and drinking coffee. I love this piece so much, and it looks different today.'"
Current artwork includes a variety of prints, CDs and books including Wrobel's Non-Binary Coloring Book (A&C, "A Non-Binary Experience," Dec. 21, 2016). Fawn catches my eyes darting from product to product and points out that Show Pony "has all of the people you'd want to find, but would never know how to find them."
Though the go-tique is parked during our chat, its main trick is mobility. Fawn helps people find the featured artists by driving Show Pony to public spaces and hanging the artwork in the trailer to create an open gallery in unconventional settings. In a matter of merely eight weeks—since Show Pony's July debut at this year's AHA Progressive Arts Festival's Art of the Machine event on July 1—it has opened its doors at numerous locations including the Railyard, the Drury Plaza Hotel and the Santa Fe Opera. Obviously, this pony is agile.
Just as a horse takes time to learn its tricks, the idea began percolating in Fawn's mind two years ago. It was around the time she also founded Curate Santa Fe, a business model that led her to design over 30 art shows for spaces like Iconik Coffee Roasters and the Visual Arts Gallery at Santa Fe Community College. The shows helped Fawn create strong relationships with local artists, many of whom are represented in the go-tique today.
Earlier this year, the vision materialized when Fawn embodied the personality of a workhorse, transforming a trailer from the inside out in only 47 days. The effort that went into creating (and now maintaining) the space is masterfully hidden behind an intense attention to craft and detail; the black exterior stands in stark contrast to the interior's sleek, white wood paneled walls with carefully selected artworks that are all under $500 and average roughly $150.
"There are many people who don't have the inroad to pay $5,000 for a painting," Fawn tells SFR. "It might be because they are very educated and have masters degrees in art, but they also have $50,000 of student debt. Or they might be working 40 to 60 hours a week just trying to make ends meet in Santa Fe, and those people deserve a piece of art, too." The price point means pieces sell regularly, which not only supports the overall Santa Fe arts scene, but creates an ever-changing collection of content.
To keep up with this animal, you'll have to track it on Instagram (@showponygallery) or through showponygallery.com. Fawn comments that most people are on their phones anyway, so why not tap into that relationship and create an alternative art experience? Meanwhile, you can find Show Pony at Second Street Brewery's Rufina location this Friday (4-8 pm. 2920 Rufina St., 954-1068) and at Back Road Pizza from noon-6 pm on Saturday and Sunday (1807 Second St., Ste. 1, 955-9055)
"The art world is changing," she states. "It just is. It has to."
Niomi Fawn takes over the SFR Instagram account this weekend from Friday to Sunday, so follow along: