To the average person, the name Ray Belcher is not familiar, but for art collectors and Santa Fe art insiders, the name is synonymous with New Mexico photography. Having garnered several artistic awards during the 1960s and 70s, the artist arrived in Santa Fe from California during the mid-1970s. While he began his photographic journey developing pictures for actors, Belcher has made his name as one of the few photographers who still utilizes the black and white gelatin silver printing process. Belcher’s fascination lies in the mystery of the absence of color.
“Black and white is challenging because you don’t necessarily know what colors are. Black and white lets you get a result which captures what you were feeling at the moment that you took the picture,” says Belcher.
While his photography exhibits an absence of color, it is Belcher’s absence from the New Mexico art mainstream for an entire decade that has been on the artistic community’s mind. While Belcher’s work has appeared at sporadic times in various Santa Fe galleries, it isn’t until now that he has resurfaced with the intent of reclaiming his spot as one of Santa Fe’s photographic geniuses. “I am ready to reclaim my connection to my work and continue on as an artist, “he said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to show a broader range of art reflecting my interests.”
On December 2, Belcher will open his first solo show in a decade at Legends Santa Fe. The exhibition entitled “Castles and the Sky” will feature never-before-seen works featuring his favorite subjects—the Galisteo, New Mexico skies and remnants of film location sets dating back to the 1980s as well as rare portraiture.
Belcher admits that while the subject matter is broad, perhaps an overall unifying theme might be that the quality of the printing of all the pieces shown are on par with each other. Belcher is a stickler for capturing an image that reflects exactly what he saw at the moment of snapping the photo. His artistic defiance results in a painstaking developing process, in which Belcher may find two out of ten prints acceptable.
“As to the overall unity of the show, I am uncertain,” Belcher said. “While I don’t know what the show in totality will convey, my hope is that it will allow people to focus on the subject or a feeling of their choice.” Belcher’s hope is that the spectator will discover something completed unexpected in his photos–perhaps something that he didn’t see or even mean to convey. Regardless, Belcher contends that “storytelling is inevitable in a photograph.”
“Castles and the Sky” will open on Legends Santa Fe on December 2 with an artist’s reception from 5:00 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will run through the month of December. Legends Santa Fe is located at 125 Lincoln Avenue. For more information call 505-983-5689 or visit http://www.legendssantafe.com.