"I wanted a word that sounded nice," newly minted gallerist and photographer
Francesca Yorke says.
We're sitting in her contemporary arts space, FOMA, in the Guadalupe Center on the corner of Guadalupe Street and Montezuma Avenue as she explains the name. She technically opened about a month ago, but this Friday heralds the grand opening as well as an exhibition from local artist Linda Lynch and local photographer Todd Williams.
"I like the sound of the word FOMA," Yorke continues. "I mentioned it to a few people, … how Fear of Missing Art would be a nice little deviation. … It's a little more light-hearted. A lot of galleries take themselves a little too seriously. And anyway, it can mean many other things, like Fan of Modern Art, which I am; and many others I won't go into now."
Yorke's new space feels classic: simple concrete floors and clean, white walls. Currently, her own paintings—a rather gorgeous set of abstract and geometric works—are on display, but as we get closer to Friday, she'll begin hanging Lynch's massive black pigment drawings (they're 11 by 7 feet, Yorke says) and lining up Williams' photos—all landscape in practice, though focused on a sort of quiet and beautiful mundanity.
For Yorke, gallery ownership is a relatively new dream come true. She hails from London and came up as an arts and photo editor for no-longer-there photo archives since bought up by Getty. In college at the London School for Printing and Graphic Arts—now known as the London College of Communication—she studied photography and art history, and she's been published and self-published more than two dozen times. In 1992, while working on a commissioned travel book with her sister, Yorke passed through Santa Fe, fell in love, and worked her way back here to stay by 2004. Locally, her paintings have hung at the now-closed David Richard Gallery, but as far as the business and ownership side of things, a chance walk past her current space last fall awoke something in her.
And here we are today, though the age-old tradition of slapping art and the walls and then hopefully selling it is merely a starting point for Yorke.
"At the moment, because this is so new to me," she says, "I'm just showing artists, but I'm thinking of liaising with schools," she says. "Or people who are young or unknown and who maybe don't want to be represented—they can rent the space and have an exhibition; I'll go to their studio and photograph them, have a reception, perhaps do a book for them; a marketing tool they can use at other galleries."
The idea is being able to take a step out of the labyrinthian set of rules and networking often required for up-and-comers to break into the gallery and exhibitions world. Or to at least put some of the power back in the hands of the
creators. Further, she says, she wants to take some of the stigma out of arts pricing—namely that the unaffordable somehow equals good.
The location, she says, is due for good things as well. With the New Mexico School for the Arts opening up in the old Sanbusco Center before long, the Vladem Contemporary site of the New Mexico Museum of Art coming soon kitty-corner to FOMA, as well as the busy activity of already-there businesses, Yorke says the area is the closest she has felt to her London days yet. Depending on how these things work out and what her relationships with schools might look like, FOMA is poised to evolve.
"I know it sounds like everything's a bit vague," she says, "but I feel like I've got to just be in the space as things gradually change."
This could include changes to the Guadalupe Center, of which Yorke is now part owner, but she's not ready to discuss that yet. For now, she says, it's all about the grand opening.
"And if it doesn't work, I'll do something else," she says with a laugh. "It's weird; I almost feel like I'm back to a 9-to-5 job, but in terms of pushing me out of my comfort zone, it's been great. … When digital came along, I almost quit photography, but gradually I embraced it, and I do know how to do it. Long term? It could end up being anything. I'm just obsessed with art."
FOMA Grand Opening
5 pm Friday July 12. Free.
FOMA, 303 Montezuma Ave., 660-0121
An earlier version of this story identified artist Linda Lynch as a Dallas resident when she is, in fact, a New Mexico resident. SFR regrets the error.