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Review: Albuquerque artists favor narrative expression in 516 Arts show

“Peace Offering” by Scott Greene is a masterfully painted world history review in his solo “Bewilderness” exhibition at 516 ARTS.

“Peace Offering” by Scott Greene is a masterfully painted world history review in his solo “Bewilderness” exhibition at 516 ARTS.

516 ARTS has hit another home run this year with a spotlight installation for two of Albuquerque’s premier artists.

“Manifest” by Scott Greene is the artist’s interpretation of America’s Manifest Destiny among other things.

“Manifest” by Scott Greene is the artist’s interpretation of America’s Manifest Destiny among other things.

Scott Greene is having his first local solo show in the past 20 years titled “Bewilderness” a gob smacking tour-de-force of virtuosity that may lead lessor talents to hang up their brushes.

In the upstairs gallery Beau Carey skillfully blends modernist abstraction, geographical studies, the history of American landscape painting and navigational map making techniques into an eye-popping array of compositions that reveal a new reality on our ever changing planet.

To paraphrase Bob Dylan, Greene can paint the rubber off the tire and the bird off the wire. He has always been a superstar on the local scene but his work is now party to an international return to the figure movement occupied by Julie Heffernan, Odd Nerdrum, Wang Hongjian (aka Muse Wang), Martin Wittfooth, Michael Pearce, Brian O’Connor, and others.

All of these artists have cast off the yoke of modernism in favor of narrative expression that reaches back to Francisco Goya’s dark night of the soul while galloping past the cool big city irony of the two decade rein of the New York pop art gang.

Though Greene’s mastery is evident throughout the downstairs galleries his gigantic “Trading Post” mural opens the show with an explosion of color, complexity and critique of our commodity laden culture.

The horizontal composition houses a fallen cell tower disguised at an evergreen or vice versa since Greene fell in love with ambiguity a long time ago.

The tower/tree is filled with contemporary detritus including a hapless repair guy in a pink shirt. Among the falling debris are a live deer and several bits and pieces of trash.

Greene finds a terrible beauty within our insatiable consumption of our home planet much like Erika Wanenmacher found the terrible beauty in our post-World War II Hydrogen Bomb tests a few years ago.

Greene paints with a passion that reveals a sense of humor but doesn’t produce many giggles in this viewer. Greene is a serious and highly intelligent artist who has a firm grasp of reality and the ability to tell a great story.

His “The Course of Empire” series is a five composition epic array of stunning images that covers the gambit of events following the post-renaissance empire building of the European nations and America.

Greene’s heroic work embodies the wow factor while avoiding the showy facile ego chops that often spoiled Larry Rivers’ forays into the Goya realm 50 years ago.

Carey while tuned to a different wave length than Greene is a darn fine painter who masters landscape and abstraction with every stroke of the brush.

His well-executed renderings fit perfectly into the growing international “Land Art” movement while embracing environmental conservation concepts and playing in the netherworld orchestra of symbolic language.

“1000 Plateaus” by Beau Carey offers viewers an opportunity to time travel through geological epochs in his solo show at 516 ARTS.

“1000 Plateaus” by Beau Carey offers viewers an opportunity to time travel through geological epochs in his solo show at 516 ARTS.

Carey’s “1000 Plateaus” examines spatial juxtapositions between vertical and horizontal viewpoints across our western landscape.

The kaleidoscopic composition offers viewers an opportunity to travel through time and space while witnessing the accretion of layers of sand and stone over vast geological periods.

Both Carey and Greene explore the concept of a constructed reality that really only exists in the human mind.

They see our role in planetary evolution as a long-term inevitability with an unknown outcome.

Both of these artists are visionaries. These are the most powerful local exhibitions I’ve seen in a long while. Don’t miss them.

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