By Raymundo Muñoz
Although Santa Fe gets most of the traffic, art patrons definitely should not neglect the quieter side streets. Beyond being a good way to bypass the crowds during First Friday, galleries there offer works that are just as good and just as compelling as those on the busy boulevard. A short stroll a block east to the corner of Inca and 6th, you’ll find one such establishment: the small but smart Love Gallery. One steps up to walk into the cleanly contemporary building, and such an entrance seems fitting given the nature of the place.

The gallery’s name alone gives one a sense that “soft spots”–as in the tender or sentimental feelings we can all attest to–are a guiding force in the presentation and selection of artists and their work. One such soft spot can be found in affable owner Mike Benninghoven: his fondness for stickers. Although the show at viewing–”Only Human”– had nothing to do with stickers, Mike’s love for them can be seen in their tiny glory throughout the premises, most notably arranged across the big front window sill. In fact, just a couple minutes into conversing with Mike, he mentioned a past show composed entirely of thousands of tiny glue-backed works from a number of artists (many procured through the fine and age-old practice of trading).
In the featured works as well that sense of love, often of a very personal nature, was decidedly evident. Adorned in illustrative scribblings and awash in bleeding hues, Emily J. Moore’s mixed media painted portraits culled from past relationships, like vivid representations of often painful journal entries. Opposite these impassioned works, the clean and quaint patterned paintings of Whitney Stephens seemed like an emotional counterpoint, where colors were muted and textures understated. Such elements, however, gave one a sense of textiles, suggesting the interweaving nature of our separate lives and the complex fabric of the community created therein. Experience these and many more “soft spots” at Love Gallery.