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Feast for the eyes

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque aesthetic powerhouse Rachel Popowcer offers her dynamic multi-media works in “Sheltered” a stunning solo exhibition at the Jonathan Abrams MD Gallery at the University of New Mexico Hospital through Aug. 9.

Popowcer is showing a majority of new works along with selections from her ongoing archival photo series “The (Rescue Dog) Ice Project” begun in 2016. Her presentation of 24 images based upon her dog’s frozen water dish is far more beautiful than it may sound.

Each piece of circular clear ice is carefully placed on a variety of surfaces which add texture and depth to each image thus echoing the layered aspect of her paintings.

In her diptych, “Story (landscape),” Popowcer pulls the stops with subtle layers built one over another until a number of dark ellipses float to the surface. With some background forms resembling trees one can see the ellipses as falling leaves.

During the 1960s, New York artist Larry Poons executed a series of ellipse-based paintings composed over grids. He saw them as random elements much like falling leaves.

Popowcer adds spirals, circles and arcs that truly energize the painting. She often includes passages covered in tiny dots of color reminiscent of Australian Aboriginal symbolic abstract paintings and pictographs.

Popowcer has multiple teaching positions and works with community groups on a variety of projects. In response to her active public life, her studio becomes a respite where she can reflect upon highly personal thoughts and feelings.

Alone with her pencils, brushes, paper, canvas, camera and the occasional wood-burning tool Popowcer reaches inside to tell stories, visit far away spaces and imagine a quieter world where dreams manifest in ordinary magic, if there is such a thing. Popowcer’s magic seems extraordinary but why argue?

Popowcer’s beautiful painting “Ordinary Magic” is filled with joyful mysteries and would be the centerpiece of any debate over whether magic is still alive.

Her mixed-media painting “Altered States” allows the viewer to visit Popowcer’s inner sanctum, where anything is possible and where there truly is nothing to get hung up about and strawberry fields may well go on forever. My apologies to John Lennon and Paul McCartney for altering their lyrics.

Popowcer’s lyrical “Speak to Me” features two hummingbirds connected by a beak-to-beak spiral while floating in a netherworld of warm reds and cools blues. It’s been said that even cowgirls get the blues (Tom Robbins) – but hummingbirds?

In “Method” Popowcer’s formidable graphic skills are showcased with lost and found horizontal stripes, tiny dots, circles and a giant interdimensional bee. Could be a pesticide protest piece, but who cares? This composition is a knockout, brimming with a celebration of the life force.

A few of Popowcer’s works, including the aforementioned “The (Rescue Dog) Ice Project” under glass, do not work in the gallery’s current configuration. Maybe some day a translucent matte-finish milk-white layer could cover at least some sections of the floor to ceiling windowed wall on the northside to kill the glare that now diminishes and obfuscates all works under glass.

This is a dynamite, do-not-miss exhibition by one of Albuquerque’s most talented artists. Check it out.

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