ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In one sense the artists in the Concetta D Gallery stable are 19th century traditionalists, but they also represent a rebellious back beat like a bass drummer backing the free-style rock ‘n’ roll heavy-metal cacophony of the 20th and early 21st century modernist, post-modernist, post mark and post-apocalyptic aesthetic.
I once compared the ubiquitous landscape, cowboy and American Indian paintings of the great southwest to Andy Warhol’s soup can prints because of their equally market-driven pop culture success. But it may be time to take a second look at the almost post-everything survivors of the intellectual culture wars.
In “Tender Encounter” Paul Cheng bridges his Asian heritage with that of the American Indian post-Columbian horse cultures. The elegantly detailed depiction of a warrior reassuring a small fawn at the edge of the trail evokes positive emotions while highlighting the universality of human creativity.
When New Mexico weaver Nancy Kozikowski first traveled to China more than 20 years ago she discovered motifs in ancient Chinese traditional weavings that paralleled American Indian weaving and pottery motifs. Those shamanic echoes are currently being explored by Kozikowski and other artist/scholars.
The majority of artists in the show fall into the simpler stylistic categories of impressionism, expressionism and realism bordering on photorealism.
David William Terry exhibits two major figurative works titled “Mystic and Danial,” a close encounter between human and horse, and “If Music be the Food of Love,” a cellist playing his heart out. The contrasting subjects of animal/human empathetic symbiosis and the more abstract artistry of musical instrument making and playing as an extension of the human voice, represents the range of transcendent human activity that makes life interesting.
Jeff Otis is a longtime landscape artist whose beautifully executed “Trout Lake Afternoon” brings joy to the hungry eye. The mountain lake shimmers with gorgeous cobalt blues, cobalt violets and greens that bring peace to a troubled world.
In “Silver Mist” Andy Eccleshall presents a stunning portrait of a winter landscape that is at once cold and inviting. The viewer is drawn in by the atmospheric perspective first realized by Leonardo Da Vinci during the renaissance. Several other successfully romantic atmospheric sky paintings round out Eccleshall’s strong contribution.
Though a tad reminiscent of Steve Hanks’ style, “Window Seat” by Carla D Aguanno stands on its own with a beautiful play of sunlight across the face and clothing of a young girl who may be daydreaming of far-off lands and romantic adventures or just quietly rejoicing on a beautiful morning.
Robert Kuester is a serious and successful painter who has been on my radar for more than 20 years. Though a traditional impressionist, his work is a bit tighter and more carefully drawn than many others in the genre. Kuester has the chops to be relaxed when tackling the complexity of “Salida River Valley,” one of his usual knockout renderings of land, architecture and foliage. Though he downplays human presence, there are tracks, fenceposts and distant buildings to put vestiges of people into the pastoral.
Beverly Branch shows strong potential in “Red and Snow” a well-wrought depiction of an American Indian woman wrapped against the cold in a bright red blanket. Everything about this snow scene is well done only to be spoiled on the lower right by a giant signature. Artists need to quell the urge to shout their presence across the rooftops. If this artist continues to evolve, there will be plenty of opportunities to sign catalogs with whatever flourish is desired. In the meantime a very small signature will suffice.
In 500 years, no one forgot who painted the unsigned Sistine Chapel ceiling.
This is a wonderful show with many strong works by many heavy hitting artists who did not all get mentioned here. It’s a great gallery to visit. Two thumbs up.