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Warehouse District galleries celebrate with end-of-the-year exhibitions

click to enlarge “Devices of Desires,” carved wood painting by Albert Kogel.

Courtesy of the Davis Dominguez Gallery

“Devices of Desires,” carved wood painting by Albert Kogel.

DAVIS DOMINGUEZ GALLERY

It may just be the holidays talking, but Albert Kogel's exuberant carved wood paintings at Davis Dominguez Gallery are beginning to look a lot like Christmas...ornaments.

Take "Devices of Desires," a kaleidoscope of colors spinning across multiple layers of wood. A jaggedy flash of orange zig-zags across a teal plank at the upper right and a carved-out concave spiral shoots out vivid purples at lower right. A wood slab in royal blue at upper right is so jubilant it breaks right out of the rectangular picture plane.

Elsewhere Kogel's painted wood constructions are circular, looking just like those oversized balls you hang on your tree. The round "Daughter of Time," just 15 inches in diameter, has a sunshine rainbow; red lightning and a series of jumping green diamonds. Gallery co-owner Mike Dominguez even jokes that he can detect a tiny nativity scene nestled in a painted passage of ocher and tan at the bottom of "Deliverance."

At any other time of year, in viewers less addled by Yuletide dazzle, these wonderfully carved and colored objects—part sculpture, part painting—would register as homages to the desert, not to the holidays. Kogel's zig-zags metamorphose into lightning bolts, his patches of royal blue become the monsoon sky and his ever-present spirals evolve into wriggling rattlers.

On seven of the works Kogel collaborates with ceramic artist Joy Fox. Their joyful concoctions of clay, paint and wood, hanging on the wall, incorporate Fox's trademark animals. "After Dark My Sweet" frames a Kogel painted-wood portrait of a dog in Fox's reddened fired clay. In "Mariposa," a piece about transformation, a Kogel red bird alights on a human head; below a black ceramic spine by Fox has sprouted butterfly wings.

Across the gallery, Susan Conaway shifts the mood. Her large paintings of architects' drawing papers and rulers are somber and monochromatic, with the pale tan of the rumple paper set against velvety black backgrounds. Conaway is a rigorous geometrician, and her carefully constructed compositions of triangles and trapezoids have an austere beauty. The lovely companion pencil drawings, delicately shaded images of twigs and vegetables, are much softer.

But even the serious Conaway goes for holiday giddiness in "Tis the Season." It's a drawing of a Christmas-tree shaped pile of twigs, gussied up in a white angel dress eminently suitable for Nativity pageant. "Construction: Work by Susan Conaway, Albert Kogel and Joy Fox" continues 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, through Jan. 2 at Davis Dominguez Gallery, 154 E. Sixth St. Closed Christmas and New Year's days. 629-9759; www.davisdominguezgallery.com.

RAICES TRAILER 222

Up the street at Raices Taller 222, the holiday "Regalitos" (little gifts) exhibition is up through Jan. 9. The highlight of the show is a glittering Virgin of Guadalupe. Made by Antonio C. Estrada in acrylic on wood, she's dressed in her usual blue mantle and pink dress and bathed in a gold light that glistens against the black sky. Estrada calls her "La Reina de Mexico," but this queen is also presiding over troubled Arizona. Encircling her feet like a wreath is a cascade of Arizona prickly pears.

Some 80 artists have contributed to this small-works show, in which everything is priced at $222 or less. Well-known local painter Cristina Cárdenas exhibits intricate etchings, including "Sección amarilla," an intense close-up of a woman's face. Up-and-coming young artist David Contreras, a UA student and gallery intern, also makes serious prints, including the litho "Causa probable." A parable about our borderlands, where migrants suffer and sometimes die, Contreras' loosely rendered black-and-white piece pictures a desert battle between bears and a coyote.

"Regalitos" continues through Jan. 9 at Raices Taller 222, 218 E. Sixth St. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Christmas Day and New Year's day. Call before you go. 881-5335.

CONTRERAS GALLERY

Beloved Green Fields art teacher Jane Buckman shares her show at Contreras Gallery with four former students—now grown-up artists—and some current students. During her 33 years of teaching, Buckman has clearly continued her prolific art practice. The small gallery adjoining Davis Dominguez holds no fewer than 30 of her oils on canvas and two small pastels on paper.

Buckman specializes in boldly painted desert landscapes, with simplified forms, bright colors and a flattened perspective. Two of her best are extreme close-ups of desert plants. "Mesquite Shade" zeroes in on everyone's favorite desert tree. Buckman captures its curving branches, its pale-green springtime leaves and the patches of cerulean sky above and shapely gray rocks below.

"Prickly Sunset" puts the pads of the prickly pear front and center in a painting that's teeming with psychedelic color. Ornamented with pink and yellow blossoms, these pads are vivid turquoise. The sky is deep maroon.

One of Buckman's former students, Lisa Kanouse, paints similarly psychedelic scenes of Tucson's streets. "Way Home from Mom's House" is an aerial view of Barrio Anita and the neighborhood around Holy Family Church, but there's nary a straight line in the streets and buildings. Every house—and the church—is a bundle of curves.

Kanouse's "Heart of the Old Pueblo" has downtown all aglow. Every building on Congress Street and Toole is decked out in holiday orange and red, dressed every inch for Christmas.

"Burning Bright: Paintings by Jane Buckman" and work by her former and current students continues through Jan. 2 at Contreras Gallery, 110 E. Sixth St. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Early closing at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24, and Thursday, Dec. 31. Closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day. 398-6557; www.contrerashousefineart.com

More by Margaret Regan

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