James Sterling Pitt comes out the other side
"In 2007, I was in a near-fatal car accident," artist James Sterling Pitt tells SFR. "It shifted by whole physical body and neurological body, and I ended up with disabilities in both spheres. I had to learn to work a lot more small and humble. That's when the woodworking started."
Prior to the accident, Pitt had studied painting at the University of New Mexico, ceramics under the sculptor Ron Nagle and executed large-scale sculpture of his own during his grad school years at Mills College. Over the last 13-ish years, however, Pitt narrowed his focus to a satisfying marriage of woodworking and deceptively minimalist acrylic painting practices for a small but poignant combination of metaphysical treatises, architectural homage and sculptural rule-breaking that's a bit like Beetlejuice by way of Memphis Design. Simple? At first glance, perhaps, but Pitt's considerations and messaging run deep—there are no clean lines, for example, even when he works in furniture—even if he's been hunkered down in newfound Santa Fe domesticity.
"They're the first works I've made [since] moving back to New Mexico about a year ago," Pitt explains, adding that Bay Area living costs forced him and his wife to Santa Fe earlier than intended, even if it was always the plan. "I'd always wanted to be back here, and our studios are at our house, which is great. Then the pandemic hit, and it really shifted my focus—I feel like things were being created much more in a domestic space as opposed to in California where I'd go to the wood shop, to the studio, to these different places of making."
Here, however, Pitt's neighborhood off Second Street remains a constant source of inspiration, particularly when it comes to colors and the small ways in which things that resemble one another can to stand out. His pieces, most of them small enough to hold in your hand, take on a door-like quality or, according to Pitt, something akin to portals; a multiverse of different selves and possibilities without paying mind to the tired and trendy hipster-nouveau-riche take on the concept. Instead, pieces are almost like reminders that Pitt's living countless lives at once, through layers and changes and chance, and the ways in which that 2007 accident altered his existence and perceptions. What's past is prologue, so they say.
"When you see these things three-dimensionally…the best way I've been able to describe is, there are parts in a more hopeful space," he says, "but in parts, there's more of a dystopia phase."
Of course, there's no way to know what reality into which one might emerge once they've looked through one of Pitt's portals until they've seen it firsthand. Hit 5. Gallery (by appointment, please) starting this week to find out more.
James Sterling Pitt: a punching bag and an ocean:
By appointment starting Friday, August 7. Free.
Murder By Death
You've gotta hand it to theater folk—they've really pivoted into the world of livestreaming stuff quite nicely (we recommend the Stars in the House YouTube series), and The Lensic's getting in on the action. We point to A Killer Party—A Murder Mystery Musical, a new episodic venture wherein the songs get sang and someone's totally gonna die. Each week, a new episode appears and leads viewers closer to the answers. First off, it sounds like a more active experience than rewatching Frasier (which we've been doing and is great, but doesn't come with a mystery…always, anyway), you'll be supporting theater and you'll be kickin' it with The Lensic, a citywide fave according to the recent Best of Santa Fe poll from which the theater walked away with numerous awards. Visit lensic.org for more info. (ADV)
A Killer Party—A Murder Mystery Musical:
All day Wednesday, August 5.
Sit and Spin
Many folks we know have been using this time to get good at things (have we mentioned that before? We have? OK, well, deal with it), and a common refrain we hear among the artsy-er among our buds is that they wish they could ceramic it up with the best of them. At Firebox Studios, you can do just that. A veritable gaggle of instructors and classes are available, but for n00bs, we'd recommend Into to Wheel with Linda Tebbetts. At $100, is the class a little pricy? Maybe so. But can you put a dollar amount on ways to keep busy while picking up new skills right now? Yes—and it's $100. You'll learn the basics to wheelin' it up, and you'll also learn about other exciting opportunities at Firebox. Hit up fireboxstudios.co for more. (ADV)
Intro to Wheel:
10 am-1pm Thursday, August 6. $100.
5 Banana Lane,
Live music with bands may have changed as we know it forever (with respect to drive-in concerts and the like), but if ever there were one great thing about DJs, it's that they can do it alone. Enter DJ Obi Zen, a longtime Santa Fe deck master who puts the "low" in "mellow," as in, you'll get low, but in that good, relaxing sort of way. Obi Zen's spinning the tunes at Boxcar these days on Monday nights, and the perfect kickoff to your no-doubt stressful week goes down socially distant. Don't forget Boxcar's great menu and downright impressive list of cocktails to go with your chillout jams. Think of it like self care, or at least like a chance to cautiously and safely leave your house for a damn fine steak. (ADV)
Mellow Mondays with DJ Obi Zen:
10 pm Monday, August 10. Free.
530 S Guadalupe St.,