Blurring Lines Between Art & Craft with Form & Concept Gallery

Matt Mullins’ artistic blend of human design and the landscape most significantly

represents our integration with the natural world. However, there is another theme

that emerges from his combination of human-designed patterning and the artistic

rendering of nature, which is the visual collaboration between the realms of art,

craft, and design. This interconnection is in direct alignment with the mission of

Form & Concept, a gallery in Santa Fe’s Railyard Art District that is breaking

preconceived distinctions between these disciplines.

“I think we’re one of the few galleries that looks at craft from an overview,” says

Frank Rose, Form & Concept’s gallery director. “We want to insert craft, design, and

technology into the art conversation and explore their interrelationships. We don’t

view these genres as separate from art, and we’d like to encourage others to view

through this lens.”

The gallery has supported this overview through rotating exhibitions and temporary

artist residencies, and has recently announced they are now acquiring four stable

artists whose work also embodies this vision. According to Rose, Mullins was a quick

choice for representation as an artist whose career he’d been following from the


“The interrelationship of human design and ‘natural’ design explored in Matt’s art is

a core expression of many craft-based works,” Rose explains. “I chose him to be

represented by the gallery because I believe in his work and want to see him

succeed as an artist.”

The overlaid patterns in Mullins’ paintings are derived from craft traditions such as

quilt making and tiling. By combining these constructs with landscape painting, he is

bringing craft and design into an artistically focused context, which motivates

viewers to consider connections between the art forms.

Matthew Mullins,  Chicoma , Acrylic Ink and Watercolor, 58" x 38"

Matthew Mullins, Chicoma, Acrylic Ink and Watercolor, 58" x 38"

“With craft makers, there is often a preconceived idea of what the end result will be,”

says Mullins. “Art calls for more experimentation and intuitiveness. With my work, I

have a general idea of two aspects: the outcome of the pattern and the painting of

the landscape. The mystery then lies in the combination, bringing the two together.”

Form & Concept’s next opening will celebrate the four new artists, which in addition

to Mullins are Wesley Anderegg, Heather Bradley, and Heidi Brandow. The event will

take place on October 28th, 5-7pm in the gallery’s upstairs mezzanine. View the

event on Facebook and Form & Concept’s website.

The Artist's Process

The Artist’s Process

by: Kelly Skeen


From intimate works on paper to large-scale canvases, the bulk of Matthew Mullins’ work begins with layers upon layers of acrylic ink and watercolor that form a realistic under painting of a natural environment. The artist then begins to obscure the image with a human made pattern, maybe found from a folk tradition or a tiling manual, allowing the two elements to intersect and mingle on the paper or canvas in an intuitive way. A mystical grove of pine trees, a serene lake, or a majestic mountain landscape is imbued with a construct that has been filtered by mankind. The result doesn’t create clash or controversy; it realizes harmony as a visualization of the unified web to which we all belong.

Matthew Mullins,  Pines (Blue) , Acrylic on Canvas over Panel, 16" x 12"

Matthew Mullins, Pines (Blue), Acrylic on Canvas over Panel, 16" x 12"


“My work draws upon my fascination with visual perception and the forces of nature,” explains Mullins in his artist statement. “By integrating human made constructs with natural environments, I’m composing a relationship that is often deconstructed or forgotten in today’s society.”

Matthew Mullins,  Ridgeline,  Watercolor on Paper, 60" x 40"

Matthew Mullins, Ridgeline, Watercolor on Paper, 60" x 40"


This process allows for risk taking and ambiguous experimentation, an exciting prospect for the artist. The permanence of the medium stimulates Mullins as he progresses through a piece, obscuring parts that could have taken hours to complete. As the acrylic ink immediately stains the paper, Mullins is inspired by the sense of risk in that moment. The piece continues to build and shift with each layer of ink, and is finished with watercolor to soften the hard edges of the acrylic. See this process embodied in Chicoma, Aspen & Pine, Nebula, and Annie, among others.

Matthew Mullins,  Chicoma,  Acrylic Ink and Watercolor on Paper, 58" x 38"

Matthew Mullins, Chicoma, Acrylic Ink and Watercolor on Paper, 58" x 38"


Mullins dives deeper into the literal connection between humans and nature with a series of mandala pieces called The Creation of the Elements. These cosmic watercolors take us out of our typical earthly view and into an environment similar to the one in which we were created. The starry sky imagery recalls the origins of our universe and subsequent formation of stars through hydrogen gases and cosmic dust. Many of the elements in our own physical bodies were created in this process; as a testament to this, Mullins finishes each piece in the series with a resonating artifact such as a drop of blood, or a small piece of copper, paying homage to the original integration of natural forces and our physical selves.

Matthew Mullins,  The Creation of the Elements: Copper , Watercolor and Copper on Paper, 24" x 24"

Matthew Mullins, The Creation of the Elements: Copper, Watercolor and Copper on Paper, 24" x 24"


Mullins also experiments with collage, drawing inspiration from crazy quilts, and has a traditional landscape watercolor series. He began these works on paper as a way to deepen his skillset for painting the natural scenes in his patterned work. To learn more about Mullins’ process and life in the studio, follow his Studio page and connect with him on Instagram and Facebook. You can also see his finished work on display at Form & Concept in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Matthew Mullins,  Grizzly Peak, Berkeley,  Graphite Drawing, 19th Century Lithograph,  Watercolor and Acrylic on Paper, 20" x 16"

Matthew Mullins, Grizzly Peak, Berkeley, Graphite Drawing, 19th Century Lithograph,  Watercolor and Acrylic on Paper, 20" x 16"

Landmark Show at the Center for Contemporary Art

I'm honored to have been selected among the 28 artists for the Landmark Show at the Center for Contemporary Art's Munoz Waxman Gallery.  The exhibition examines contemporary mark-making in the landscape.      

“Several themes emerge from this exhibition, perhaps mostly views of our current ecology--documentation of our marks on the land, land use, and the fractured reality of utopian visions. However, artists have also used their skills to work toward a different ecology, one that involves remediation and sustainability, even a different perspective on our humanity. The artists in The Land Mark Show navigate these territories of the arid West, as we think about drought and climate change like no other time in our present history.” - Juror Grace Kook-Anderson

The show will be up until January 2016. 

Visit To Chaco Canyon

I recently visited the 1000 year old ruins at Chaco Canyon, in a remote area in Northwestern New Mexico.  To get to the ruins you drive about 20 miles down a dirt road, under an expansive sky with faraway horizons punctuated by mesas.  I saw a group of horses that may have been wild as I was nearing the ruins.

Chaco Canyon has the densest concentration of ruins in the American Southwest and is among the best examples of ancient Puebloan architecture.  It is also among the least understood.

This is a very special place.  The stillness, being alone in such a desolate location and being one of only two people in the entire canyon created a sense of solitude and timelessness.  But, I was also overcome with a sense of presence and human life.  Walking and standing amongst the millions of stones laid down by human hands over a thousand years ago was much like standing in front of brushstrokes in a painting made long ago.  I could sense the makers of these impressive structures by contemplating the labor and decision making involved in the placement of each individual stone, much like one can sense a bygone painter by standing in front of a painting (where they stood while making it) and contemplating the individual brushstrokes and decisions that comprise the painting.  It is a way to connect with the spirit of human life, but from a different time and place.  

The builders of Chaco Canyon are known for their advanced knowledge of astronomy and aligned many of the structures at Chaco Canyon with celestial events.  Best known is the Sun Dagger, a grouping of petroglyphs that track both solar and lunar cycles.  Other petroglyphs at Chaco Canyon depict the Supernova of 1054.

Being there creates a broader sense of time than one has in day to day life.  Out there, it feels like millennia can go by like minutes.