Masked and Vulnerable
Furry photog Tommy Bruce regroups post-pandemic
“I think I always feel like, for the work I make, it requires a little bit of context up front,” artist and photographer Tommy Bruce tells SFR. “I’m giving some of the history and the culture with straightforward documentary work, then showing more of the recent work that’s a little more studio-driven and...the aspects of the culture that I find interesting.”
What culture, you may ask? Furry culture—which, when boiled down to its simplest definition, is about anthropomorphized animal-based characters. There can be a sexual edge or not, but regardless, it’s a subculture that has long been the butt of lazier jokes from kink-shaming types.
Bruce has embraced the furry lifestyle and culture for over a decade, both with his white-tailed deer character Atmus, and as a documenter of participants, purveyors, observers and makers within the world of furries, its events, conventions and communities—as well as the people to whom Bruce has grown close while exploring within its constantly evolving existence. But whereas a reductive glimpse at furry life might come down to people in costumes, Bruce sees it more as a subject bursting with artistry, commentary and closeness among its proponents and practitioners.
“It’s very novel-looking, and a lot of people approach my photographs with a curiosity and a sense of humor—which is fine, because as an artist and as a person, I think it’s a very effective Trojan Horse,” Bruce says. “If you get people laughing and smiling, you get them interested, and then you can get to what you’re trying to say.”
Bruce does just that with his newest exhibit at Santa Fe’s Ellsworth Gallery, which opens this Saturday. In 2019 at Ellsworth, he delved into the aspects of his own fursona Atmus in a smaller show. This time out, Bruce goes wider with New Fauna, a series of photos from the last decade or so that provide more insight into Atmus and Bruce’s own journey, as well as glimpses into the lives of his fellow furries.
“Where I like to push people is to say, ‘Look at this fun thing, look at the possibilities in allowing yourself, as an adult, to have fun and not conform to a normal society which says you have to grow up and start being serious and you need to be afraid of your fantasies,’” he explains. “It will feel a little bit like closing a chapter so I can start the next one. I have plenty more plans and I’m excited to start making some work that reflects on the anxiety of COVID directly.” (Alex De Vore)
Tommy Bruce: New Fauna Opening: 5 pm Saturday, May 22. Free.
215 E Palace Ave.,
Old is Gold
History and architecture nerds—this one’s for you, because it can be exciting to come across a plaque or a bridge proclaiming a structure was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Or maybe that’s just us. For those who can’t get enough local/historical secrets hiding behind every wall and faux-adobe facade, the Historic Santa Fe Foundation presents Salon El Zaguán with National Park Service architect Charles Vickrey and historical preservationist Flynn Larson. The speakers will touch on the National Park Service’s Old Santa Fe Trail Building—a hidden landmark built by the Conservation Corps nearly a century ago. The talk explores its original purposes, architectural functions and design, as well as its eventual decay and subsequent rehabilitation. Just think—when you’re driving on Old Santa Fe Trail, you could nudge to your passenger to say you know all about the original adobe bricks in that building over there. (Riley Gardner)
The Story of the National Park Service’s Old Santa Fe Trail Building: 3 pm Thursday, May 20. $10 for non-members, free for members.
Quest for the Holy Kale
We know some have avoided the Farmers Market since the pandemic started, but c’mon now—it’s outdoors, safe, and who doesn’t miss the samples? The smells of roasting green chile in the summertime? The tomatoes? Maybe Tuesday markets don’t have quite the magic of the Saturday version, but they do have the important quality food part. The kind of food that’ll get us off our takeout/comfort food living, at least for a meal or two. Plus, we need to support our local farmers, so let’s go buy some eggs and peas and root vegetables or whatever, and make healthy choices. If you’re anxious about all the people coming and going, you can check out some of the farmers and produce in advance on the website and plan for a quick trip chock-full of safety protocols. (RG)
Farmers Market Tuesdays: 8-11 am Tuesday, May 25. Free.
Farmers Market Pavilion,
1607 Paseo de Peralta,
It Must Be Something in the Oils
There’s something soothing about watching an artist work. For oil painter Dena Tollefson, it might be in the textures. Part of a series of visiting artists, Tollefson hosts a live painting event at Canyon Road Contemporary Art to show off a technique she developed and calls “daubism,” whereby she mixes oil paints into what she calls “daubs,” or small dollops of paint, and then applies them with a palette knife or serving spoon. In the light, ridges from the daubs create the illusion of movement, and new layers emerge as viewers observe from different vantages. Tollefson’s show, titled Divine Energy, should be a treat for people interested in seeing artists in that this-is-how-I-do-this period. (RG)
Dana Tollefson: Live Artist Painting: 11 am-3 pm Saturday, May 22. Free.
Canyon Road Contemporary,
622 Canyon Road,