ALBUQUERQUE – The National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) Art Museum recently received the largest gift in its history—the Van Deren and Joan Coke Collection of Mexican Arte Popular. This collection consists of more than 1000 works acquired by the donors between 1980 and 2000.

The NHCC Art Museum’s latest exhibition ¡Fabuloso!: Figures in Clay from the Van Deren and Joan Coke Collection, features approximately 200 of these amazing works.

A free public reception for the exhibition will held Sunday September 18, 2011 from 2 to 4 pm. The exhibition runs through Summer 2012

“ I would like to thank Joan Coke for this wonderful donation” said Cabinet Secretary Veronica Gonzales. “The NHCC staff and other staff members from DCA did an excellent job with the design of this exhibit and I hope that the visitors to the NHCC enjoy it as much as I do” she continued.

Van Deren Coke, who died in 2004, was a photographer, curator, professor, author, and critic, whose early work fell into the purist tradition of his mentors, Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Coke was founding director of the University of New Mexico Art Museum. He later served as curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

During this career, his excitement about Mexican arte popular never flagged and, later in life, his wife, Joan, matched him in enthusiasm. Together, the Cokes became avid fans of Mexican ceramics and in how the artists conveyed individual artistic vision and complex stories of community and place. Favorite subjects of the artists include politics, popular culture, religion, family, community, and nature, and their approaches are often humorous or irreverent.

¡FABULOSO!: Figures in Clay from the Van Deren and Joan Coke Collection offers a glimpse into the diversity of figural clay works created in Mexico and celebrates both the identified and unidentified ceramic artists who create beauty out of nothing but earth, air, fire, and water.

The National Hispanic Cultural Center, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Hispanic art and culture at the local, state, national, and international levels.