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‘Good Sign’ looks to stars for inspiration

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Palette Contemporary Art and Craft is hosting “A Good Sign” a solo acrylic paintings exhibition by Brazilian artist Jaquelin Cruz inspired by the signs of the zodiac through April 30.

For those who may not appreciate an exhibition based upon astrological symbols, music and dance movements, the gallery also features stunning glass sculpture by European artists and a variety of antique radios, watches and even art-glass marbles.

“The Depths of Virgo” by Jacquelin Cruz is a tour-de-force design that energizes the entire wall in her “A Good Sign” exhibition at Palette Contemporary Art and Craft.

Cruz’s stylized renderings of the 12 signs of the zodiac range from recognizable images like “The Warm Hearted Leo,” an abstracted lion’s head. and “The Reliable Strength of Taurus,” a bull’s head, to the wonderfully energetic abstraction found in “The Depths of Virgo.”

All of Cruz’s paintings are painstakingly crafted and very well-designed but I much prefer the tour de force balance between organic leaf structures and vibrant geometry found in “The Depths of Virgo” to the sedate energy in “The Warm Hearted Leo,” a nice combination of golden tans and browns that is pleasing but lacks the powerful punch of “The Depths of Virgo,” which seems to energize the entire wall with its spinning design and gorgeous color combinations.

For the astrologically uninitiated, Cruz offers text panels for each painting that explain historic origins, character and essential meaning of each sign.

When astrology developed from a variety of sources in India, it led to the abandonment of huge temples to the sun as the mythical influence of the planets gained acceptance circa A.D. 1000. The practice of astrology on a global level over thousands of years has been both hailed as an augury and condemned as pseudoscience.

Cruz presents her paintings as celebrations of the energies that have evolved from astrology while standing back to allow viewers to decide whether or not the system offers anything useful to contemporary society. In a sense, she is making art about an ancient art form and doing it very skillfully.

In her artist’s statement, Cruz cites her love of music and dance as an integral part of her painting and thinking process. Can these painted images then be categorized as kinesthetic? Kinesthesia is a tactile and body movement learning technique often used by physical therapists to speed healing.

Or is Cruz translating these images through synesthesia, a process of seeing images through hearing or taste? In either case, there is more than astrology at work in Cruz’s paintings that requires a bit of engagement from viewers.

“Green Candlestick” by Frantisek Vizner represents his aggressive cut glass style that won him worldwide acclaim.

The gallery is known for its high-quality items, including the occasional print by Alexander Calder or Helen Frankenthaler. Alongside the Cruz show are gorgeous cast- and blown-glass works by European artists.

“Green Candlestick” by the late Frantisek Vizner is an elegant museum-quality work by one of the world’s most famous glass artists. His work has been displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Corning Museum in New York, as well as museums in Prague, London and Paris.

Work by the late Pavel Hlava wades into the fray with “Blue, Orange, Red Sommerso,” a stunning piece in hand-blown and cold-worked glass. It has the interior structure of a flower and the grace of a raindrop.

Karel Wunsch, who owns a gallery in the Czech Republic, offers “Dual,” a dazzling vase with a repeated cruciform pattern.

Come for the glass; stay for the astrology lesson. It’s all beautifully executed.