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Downtown art galleries battle the recession with a free 'Safari'

Baboquivari Peak may just be the antidote to economic anxiety.

Arizona's cultural institutions, from its universities to its public schools to its historic museums, are crumbling in this crisis, but Babo's angled beauty still has the power to move and disarm. Duncan Martin's lovely painting of the Tohono O'odham sacred mountain at evening presides over an unabashedly old-fashioned show at Davis Dominguez.

Natural Wonders: Three Regional Artists Interpret the West gathers together landscape paintings by Martin and Debra Salopek, and the "new realism" animal bronzes of Mark Rossi. The artists are among the dozens whose work is on view Saturday night in the multi-gallery opening extravaganza known as the Art Safari. Even better than Martin's fine full work of Baboquivari--the mountain where the creator I'toi is said to dwell--is his rough study for the big work. It's a charmer just 14 inches by 16, with quick brushstrokes darting every which way. Thrusting into the pink-and-blue Arizona twilight, the painted peak has a slash of evening orange careening down its left face. Salopek's landscapes are softer-edged and more subtle, with Old Masterly layers building up her surfaces. Her 14 oils and six pastels cover new territory--a trip to Egypt yielded some pyramid images--but she also sticks close to her New Mexico home. "Road Trip," a small oil on panel, provides an alluring diagonal view of a long horizon, glimpsed from her car. The reliable Mark Rossi creates 11 beasts of the West, a mixed bronze menagerie of highly detailed mountain lions, rabbits and monsoon toads.

Art Safari, a "midseason art expo," is a cheap thrill for recession-weary art lovers. Galleries everywhere are taking a hit from the economy, says Mike Dominguez, spokesperson for the sponsor, the Central Tucson Gallery Association.

"From the beginning-collector galleries to us to the upper end, we're all feeling the crunch," he says. But there's the occasional bright side to the crash. One recent Davis Dominguez customer plunked down cash for a big James Cook painting, saying, "At least my money won't shrink."

Aficionados without a few thou to spare can wander--for free--through more than a dozen galleries on safari. Here's a list of what to see this Saturday night, Feb. 7. Reception hours vary, but be forewarned: Most galleries really do close at the posted hour.


WAREHOUSE ARTS DISTRICT

Davis Dominguez Gallery, 154 E. Sixth St., 629-9759. Natural Wonders: Three Regional Artists Interpret the West. Paintings by Duncan Martin and Debra Salopek; bronzes by Mark Rossi. Reception 6 to 8 p.m.

Raices Taller 222 Art Gallery and Workshop, 222 E. Sixth St., 881-5335. The dozen invited artists in Amores Perros "explore love, loss, retribution and redemption," says the gallery's John Salgado. "If your relationship worked out well, blame it on amor (love). If it didn't, blame it on perros (dogs)." The off-kilter take on erotic love means there's adult material. Mary Theresa Dietz paints a nude female with a rabbit's head, and Paco Velez interprets amor in a Mexican comic-book style. Martín Quintanilla makes flowers with a Georgia O'Keeffe genital twist. Carolyn King renders female torsos in paint, and David Moreno sticks to black-and-white drawings. Reception 7 to 10 p.m.

Contreras Gallery, 110 E. Sixth St., 398-6557. Two women showcase paintings, prints and pastels. Glory Tacheenie-Campoy, a Navajo artist and longtime Tucsonan, exhibits abstractions inspired by traditional motifs. "The Vanishing Red," a large acrylic on canvas, 6 feet by 5 feet, is an explosion of pinks and reds. Lydia Maldonado offers a wry view of family life, says gallery co-owner Neda Contreras. Humorous takes on kids watching TV jostle against cowgirls and cowboys floating in space. Maldonado works in multiple media, including gouache, prismacolor pencil and mixed media. Reception 6 to 10 p.m.

The Gallery at 6th and 6th, 439 N. Sixth Ave., Suite 171, 903-0650. Peter Arakawa: Contemporary Twists on Classic Modernism. In oil paintings and works on paper stamped by the distinctive modernism of midcentury New Mexico, gallery owner Lauren Rabb writes, Peter Arakawa "captures the mysterious intersection of landscape and feeling." Reception 6 to 9 p.m.

Platform Gallery, 439 N. Sixth Ave., 882-3886. New Paintings by Jesse Wood, a gallery favorite from New Mexico, shares space with a mix of gallery regulars. 6 to 9 p.m.

dada contemporary, 439 N. Sixth Ave., Suite 139, 275-9952. Apache Chronicles: The Artwork of Douglas Miles. The artist, a San Carlos Apache, got his art start painting on his son's skateboard, and has never looked back. He has shown his stencils on suitcases and large-scale works from New York to Los Angeles, and along the way created Apache Skateboards, the first Indian-owned skateboard company. The Apache Skateboard Team gives a demo at the reception. 6 to 8 p.m.

Santa Theresa Tile Works, 440 N. Sixth Ave., 623-1856, colorful ceramics by Tucson public artist Susan Gamble and other studio artists. The gallery extends its regular hours, staying open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.


FOURTH AVENUE

Conrad Wilde Gallery, 210 N. Fourth Ave., 622-8997. Two artists who once ran Dinnerware in this space return to exhibit their encaustic paintings--art in wax. Ontologies offers up "abstract narratives on the nature of being" by Lucinda Young and Mauricio Toussaint. Young tends toward more flowing colored abstractions, while Toussaint typically uses a strong line. Reception 6 to 9 p.m.


DOWNTOWN

The Drawing Studio Gallery, 33 S. Sixth Ave., 620-0947. Montana artist Nan Parsons makes paintings of H2O in the great outdoors. Water is a collection of her plein air visions of light on liquid. Reception 6 to 8 p.m.

Philabaum Glass Studio and Gallery, 711 S. Sixth Ave., 884-7404. The eponymous studios are known for the exquisite glass works of proprietor Tom Philabaum. The artist also operates a production line, with teams of artists crafting paperweights, bowls and the like. Line workers Louie Via, Dan Enwright, Erika Parkin and Mike McCain step out into the limelight with their own art in Teamwork: The Studio--In Their Own Words. Philabaum extends its regular hours, staying open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Dinnerware Artspace, 264 E. Congress St., 792-4503. OX '09: Tucson's Asian Pacific American Artists in the Year of the Ox includes photos by Toshiharu Ueshina, paintings by Serena Tang, Yumiko Omata and Shinsuke Higuchi, and figurative ceramics by Hirotsune Tashima, among many other artists. Live models in the windows wear clothing by fashion designer Yu Yu Shiratori. Karen Falkenstrom plays taiko drums, and Denise Uyehara does performance art during the reception. 7 to 9 p.m.

The Dinnerware satellite galleries all have receptions from 7 to 9 p.m., and share the Dinnerware phone, 792-4503. Rocket Gallery, 270 E. Congress: Free Jazz Paintings, acrylics on canvas by Tucson artist Thom Lane. PLAY Arts Gallery, 276 E. Congress: Piece, a group show of artists who "embellish prefabricated puzzle pieces and assemble them." Central Arts Gallery, 274 E. Congress: Spirit's Journey, work by the co-op's members.

Tooley's on Congress, 278 E. Congress, 203-8970, new paintings by Diana Stapleton. 7 to 9 p.m.

Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress, 834-8488, paintings by Catherine Eyde. Open 24 hours.

Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery at the Pima Community College West Center for the Arts, 2202 W. Anklam Road, 206-6942. It's a little off the beaten Safari track, but Pima's Constructed Works: Alice Leora Briggs, Vicki Ragan and David Adix is worth a trip. Briggs, who's also showing right now at Etherton Gallery, has created images that are "an accumulation of thousands of marks." A piece called "Stilled Heart," inspired by a Dürer print, features a decapitated corpse and medical instruments, plywood cutouts, sgraffito line drawings and an aperture you can look through to see the whole thing, says gallery manager David Andres. Photographer Vicki Ragan exhibits two separate bodies of work: her pictures from The Edible Alphabet Book and Odd Jobs, large-scale satirical photos of worker dioramas handcrafted by the artist. David Adix has long created human figures out of recyclables, but in this "Native Figures" series, he's getting wilder. How about a Jesus on a cross made of computer mouses and wires, or a walking Giacometti made of watches? Reception 6 to 8 p.m.; call first.

More by Margaret Regan

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