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Pair of artists offer a look into their inner lives

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As a self-confessed and unabashed member of the will-illustrate-for-food contingent Greg Tucker unveils his extensive fine arts background in “Go Deep” a solo paintings and sculpture exhibition at the Mariposa Gallery this month.

“That Long Road” by Greg Tucker is a surrealistic view that may reflect Albert Einstein’s thoughts on the curvature of space and other matters of relativity.

The gallery is offering a fine arts double-header with “Atomic Soul” drawings and collage by erstwhile jewelry artist Jill Erickson in the upstairs gallery. Both shows offer a fascinating glimpse of the artists’ inner life.

For the first time, Tucker exhibits more sculpture than painting, giving the show an unprecedented density of form and color, as well as a renewed emotional intensity.

Steam ships submerging into placid seas in “Ghost Ship 1” and “Ghost Ship 2” are Tucker’s Titanic reference to the American political system, but also have archetypal implications.

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Buddhist lore identifies the ocean of Samsara as the dwelling place of all suffering unenlightened sentient beings and, of course, Western mythologies perceive the ocean as the collective and or individual unconscious.

“Elephant Mandala” by Jill Erickson depicts Ganesha amidst an explosion of lotuses in her “Atomic Soul” installation.

Human hubris sunk the real Titanic, but we blamed an errant iceberg. Tucker identifies our collective denial dilemma in “Being Human is Not Easy” and “That Long Road,” two surrealistic figurative paintings that call into question how we define reality.

Tucker offers an interdimensional view in “That Long Road” with what appears to be a circular mirror ahead of the standing figure facing it. The twist comes when the mirror reflects the back of the figure’s head repeating the original image.

Albert Einstein postulated while considering the possible curvature of space that if one looked into a powerful enough telescope, it would reveal the back of the viewer’s head.

Australian Aborigines believe they live in dreamtime wherein they connect to the two brothers who aid them in hunting, gathering and art making. We like to believe we can all live the American Dream wherein all things are possible. Tucker is quietly asking the entire world to wake up before we slumber toward oblivion.

Tucker aids the awakening with “Head with Lightning 2,” a portrait sculpture with ancient roots in Eskimo masks, African wood carvings with a modicum of modernism. The natural wood carved head emits a large white lightning bolt that reaches skyward with great force.

Another nudge comes from Tucker’s “The Devil You Say,” a santero-style brightly painted carving of Beelzebub replete with horns and other spiky ephemera, including flames rising from the depths.

If one insists on napping, Tucker offers “Bed of Nails,” a mummy-like figure reclining on a prickly mattress.

Erickson resides in the upstairs gallery with a series of large drawings and collage. Most jewelry makers are skilled draftsman and she is no exception. One of my favorites is “Elephant Mandala,” a Ganesha reference surrounded by an explosion of lotuses.

In “Hierarchy of Nirvana,” Erickson presents a three-headed and six-armed skeleton seated upon a lotus blossom with an emanating nimbus. The title of the series, “Atomic Soul,” implies spirituality, as well as the threat of nuclear obliteration.

Both shows are loaded with broad-spectrum global implications, while any potential emotional darkness is swept to the side by painstakingly skillful execution. These are two strong shows well worth a visit. Two thumbs up.


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