Miguel Gandert

Old Friends - The 40th Anniversary Exhibition

Exhibition Dates: June 20-August 26, 2024

Opening Reception with the Artist: Saturday, June 22, 2024, from 2:00 to 5:00 PM at the Andrew Smith Gallery Arizona LLC, 330 S. Convent Ave., Tucson 85701

Andrew Smith Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of the gallery’s final public exhibition, featuring Miguel Gandert. The exhibition celebrates his career as the leading photographer of Hispanic Culture in the Southwest for nearly 50 years, including groundbreaking documentary work on Indo-Hispanic Ceremonies from the Southwest United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America.


©Miguel Gandert, Sleepy, Albuquerque, NM, 1983 from the series VSJ Scenes from an Urban Chicano experience

In September 2024 the Andrew Smith Gallery will scale back to a by-appointment private dealer status. The Gallery will continue to represent its leading contemporary artists: Shelley Niro, Zig Jackson, Victor Masayesva Jr. [Duwawisioma], Barbara Van Cleve, and Miguel Gandert as well as the estates of Patrick Nagatani and George Gardner. The Gallery will continue working with large collections and important historic and classic photography, particularly Geologic Survey photography and the works of Laura Gilpin and Ansel Adams.

Miguel Gandert (1956- ) was born in Española, New Mexico, and is a multi-generational descendant of settlers of Mora, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado. Raised in Santa Fe, he began photographing the people around him in 1975, focusing on the lifestyles and traditions of rural and urban Hispanics living along the Rio Grande valley from Mexico to southern Colorado. Gandert's common ancestry with his subjects produced an authenticity of expression.


©Miguel Gandert. Juarito and Homegirl, Albuquerque, NM, 1985 from the series VSJ Scenes from an Urban Chicano experience.

Gandert worked as a journalist in high school and college, and in New Mexico during a time of flourishing Chicano Culture, from the writing of the great American author Rudolfo Anaya to the Land Grant Protests led by Reies Lopez Tijerina. Growing up in New Mexico meant learning and understanding often neglected Spanish Colonial History.

In addition to recording and observing the older traditions, Miguel Gandert also captured the newer traditions of the Latinx populations that embrace the dualities and similarities that occur simultaneously: urban and rural, Catholic and its vernacular adherents, celebrations and parties, rituals and penance, immigration and homeland, family and barrio life.


©Miguel Gandert. Juarito with Porkpie Hat, Albuquerque, NM, 1985, from the series VSJ Scenes from an Urban Chicano experience.

This exhibition features prints from a 1985 exhibition at the National Museum of American history, VSJ scenes from an Urban Chicano experience. Gandert made these images walking through the Albuquerque barrio with his ever present 35 mm camera, befriending and photographing families, gang members, low riders, religious festivals, ceremonies and personal interactions.


©Miguel Gandert. El Kooks, Albuquerque, NM ,1985 from the series VSJ Scenes from an Urban Chicano experience.

In the streets of Albuquerque Gandert embraced the traditions of American Street Photography. He studied with Beaumont Newhall and his work draws from the great traditions of the concerned photographer, the Photo-League, Social Documentary photography, newspaper and journalistic photography without the tabloid sensationalism of crime and current events. He is primarily a cultural photographer in the tradition of John Cohen whose work described and recorded the music and musicians’ culture of the rural South in the 1950s and embraces the ideas of cultural landscape from one of his mentors J.B. Jackson.

Along with Don Usner (1957- ) and Louis Carlos Bernal (1941-1993), Miguel Gandert is one of the three primary photographers of Chicano Culture in the Southwest. Gandert has worked in New Mexico, southern Colorado, California, and Texas. His work has also taken him to Mexico, Central America, South America, and Spain.


©Miguel Gandert. 51 Chevy, David and Cheryl, Albuquerque, NM, 1986 from the series VSJ Scenes from an Urban Chicano experience.


©Miguel Gandert. Mora Family, Albuquerque, NM, 1983 from the series VSJ Scenes from an Urban Chicano experience.

Gandert first gained national recognition for his photographs of the barrio culture in Albuquerque. Next, he produced a photographic document and book about traditional Indo/Hispano rituals still practiced in northern New Mexico villages, Nuevo México Profundo: Rituals of an Indo-Hispano Homeland (1999). Striking photographs from this series include Matachine dancers who represent the medieval conflict between the Spanish and the Moors, as well as appearing in Pueblo Indian rituals. More recently, Gandert has photographed Spanish Colonial and Mesoamerican indigenous traditions in Mexico still celebrated in towns along the Camino Real.

Gandert's photographs provide an insightful view of Hispanic religious life, Hispanic artists, and dwellers of the Mexican/American border who have retained the spirit of Mexico. His photographs of ancient rituals not only document the events but convey their wonder and spirit.


©Miguel Gandert. Moctezuma y Su Hija, Tortugas, New Mexico, 1996


©Miguel Gandert. Guadalupana del Alma, Tortugas, New Mexico, 1996


©Miguel Gandert. El Comanche David Gonzales, Talpa, New Mexico, 1996

Gandert's photographs convey the mystery of ancient rituals, often transcending ethnographic documents to become timeless works of art. The exhibit at Andrew Smith Gallery contrasts Gandert's photographs taken of rituals in Mexico with similar events in New Mexico. 


©Miguel Gandert. Linda Elena, Talpa, NM, 1995

In rural Northern New Mexico, he photographed the very strong insular Spanish settlements, and further south in Albuquerque and other cities he walked in the urban Barrios and Colonias, the neighborhoods, and the suburbs. Gandert has a straightforward and engaging view, he is not an anonymous photographer, he communicates with his subjects as he photographs. This allows the subjects to compose their engagement with Miguel themselves, as well as the viewers of his pictures.


©Miguel Gandert. Juan Diego and Guadalupana, Juarez, Mexico, 1995


©Miguel Gandert. Dia de La Guadalupana Raramuri Matachines, Colonia de los Tarahumara, Juarez, Mexico, 2000

Spanish culture spread from Spain to northern New Mexico with the founding of Santa Fe in 1598-1607. The most remote settlement of the Spanish Empire in North America at that time was connected to Mexico City through the 1500-mile Camino Real. The Spanish Colonists conquered and settled amongst a larger Indigenous population and from this was born the Indo-Hispanic religious and ceremonial traditions combining Catholic with Indigenous traditions. While it was often discouraged and prohibited by the Catholic officials, the dances, pilgrimages, and rituals flourished throughout the Americas in both urban and rural settings.


©Miguel Gandert. Raramuri Viernes Santo, Colonia de los Tarahumara, Juarez, Mexico, 2000

In Juarez, Gandert photographed the sex trade, immigrants, street life and urban fiestas including the Tarahumara celebrations. 


©Miguel Gandert. Dia de La Guadalupana Raramuri Ofrenda, Colonia de los Tarahumara, Juarez, Mexico, 2000


©Miguel Gandert. Colonia Kids, Colonia Ranchos de Anapra, Juarez Mexico, 1997


©Miguel Gandert. Aztec Dancers, Downtown Juarez, Mexico, 1986


©Miguel Gandert. Family Orchestra, Downtown Juarez, Mexico, 1990


©Miguel Gandert. Accordion Girl, Downtown, Juarez, Mexico, 1988


©Miguel Gandert. Family from Torreon, Nogales, Mexico, 1993


©Miguel Gandert. Colonia street, Nogales, Mexico, 1993


©Miguel Gandert. Teresa Gutierrez, Juarez, Mexico, 1992


©Miguel Gandert. Diego "Lucy" Delgado, Juarez, Mexico, 1992

Gandert's exhibitions include a one-man show at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian (1990), inclusion in the Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1993), the opening exhibit of the National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico (2000), and at Site Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Much Wider Than a Line, New Perspectives of Art of the Americas (2017). His photographs are the subject of numerous books including Nuevo México Profundo: Rituals of an Indo-Hispano Homeland (1999), The Plazas of New Mexico (2011), In the Country of Empty Crosses: The Story of a Hispano Protestant Family in Catholic New Mexico (2012), Hotel Mariachi: Urban Space and Cultural Heritage in Los Angeles (2014). Gandert lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he recently retired as a Distinguished Professor of Communication and Journalism at the University of New Mexico.

Thanks to Liz Kay the longtime gallery writer who interviewed the artists and wrote all the press releases for the gallery from 1984 to 2018.


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