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Mixed-media works at Conrad Wilde highlight Saturday's downtown 'Big Picture' celebration

In David Adix's new assemblage work at Conrad Wilde Gallery, it's the fork that's run away with the spoon.

But it could as easily have been the dish, just as in the old nursery rhyme. The Tucson artist, best known for his found-object sculptural figures, here has added the fork, the spoon, the screen and the scrap wood--everything but the dish--to lyrically beautiful mixed-media paintings.

His four paintings have acerbic titles--"Fork and Spoon," "Laced," "Wired," "Handle"--that tell you exactly what you get. But that's not all you get. These fine old utilitarian objects, rusted and ruined, worn and frayed, are merely the star attractions in complicated combo works on wood.

The 3-D objects give an architectural structure to each piece. The spoon, for instance, lies horizontally across "Fork and Spoon," on top of a long strip of pale gray wood, creating a floor line. A piece of vertical dark wood suggests the wall. The fork stands up forthrightly alongside its prostrate spoon companion.

Behind these elements are lovely layers of color rendered in paint, plaster, encaustic wax and even cement patch. In all four works, Adix sticks to the same muted palette, combining ochre tones and natural woods.

Adix is in Parts of the Whole, a show of collage and assemblage opening this Saturday during The Big Picture, a free gala evening of multiple receptions sponsored by the Central Tucson Gallery Association. But Parts also has four other artists making up its Whole.

Margaret Suchland, a book artist transplanted to Tucson from Wisconsin, shows seven intricate small collages. Old book covers in cloth serve as a base for pleasing compositions of hand-written letters, stamps and printed texts. Tucson's Catherine Nash, known primarily as a paper artist, branches out into wood, paper's source. She artfully adorns splintery found lumber with such delicacies as feathers, leaves and planes of glass ("Gingko Feather").

Of all the Parters, New Yorker Greg Stephens sticks closest to painting, but look closely, and you'll see printed pictures glued in between layers of bumpy, rusty-colored acrylics. "Detained" has a sensuous St. Sebastian pushing at the rafters that rein him in, and nearby, a pair of 1950s gents in crewcuts. Jeff Sundheim, also of New York, combines energetic black brush paintings with loose charcoal scribbles and sheets of translucent Mylar over satisfyingly rough paper.

It's a good thing there's so much to see at Wilde, because The Big Picture is on the small side this season. Gallery Centella, the ambitious newcomer in Bill Small's old galleries in Barrio Historico, has already closed its doors. Two longtime members of the association, Raices Taller 222 and The Drawing Studio, are in transition to new spaces, so they're sitting this gala out. Both will re-open soon, Raices Taller next door to its old digs at 222 E. Sixth St., and The Drawing Studio at the old Johnny Gibson store downtown at Sixth Avenue and Congress Street.

Joseph Gross and Philabaum will open during the day only. And the Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery at Pima Community College West may or may not open. Call before making the drive (206-6942).

Here's a checklist of what is open this Saturday night, Oct. 6. Receptions are 6 to 9 p.m., with the exception of Davis Dominguez and the Bernal Gallery, which close an hour before everyone else.

• Conrad Wilde Gallery, 210 N. Fourth Ave., 622-8997, conradwildegallery.com. Parts of the Whole, group show.

• Davis Dominguez Gallery, 154 E. Sixth St., 629-9759, davisdominguez.com. Sister City Invitational: Five Guadalajara Artists. The brainchild of a local commercial group, this one runs an odd gamut, from grand old-style abstraction to contemporary graffiti to old-fashioned watercolors. Reception: 6 to 8 p.m.

• The Gallery at 6th and 6th, 439 N. Sixth Ave., 903-0650, sixthandsixth.com. Joshua Olivera: The Sweetwater Series is an extravaganza of mixed-media works inspired by the land. Not to be missed. The gifted artist Olivera gives a free gallery talk at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 7.

• Platform Gallery, 439 N. Sixth Ave., 882-3886; platformart.com. Paintings and sculpture by Judith Gary, Cynthia Lynn Miller and Rick Jacobs.

• Santa Theresa Tile Works, 440 N. Sixth Ave., 623-1856; santatheresatileworks.com. Award-winning tile artist Susan Gamble and her fellow ceramicists display their whimsical colored wares.

• Dinnerware ArtSpace, 264 E. Congress St., 792-4503, dinnerwarearts.com. The long-lived gallery celebrates yet another new space, this one in the heart of downtown, where Dinnerware began way back in the 1970s. Innovation on Congress Street showcases some 130 artworks up for sale in the 28th Annual Art Auction Fundraiser. The auction is next Saturday night, Oct. 13, but this Saturday, you can peruse such treasures as puppeteer Matt Cotten's lively "Hats Off," a graffiti-esque acrylic on wood, and Carlos Encinas' "Fronteras Cicatrizes" (Border Scars), a cartoon-like digital print. Other favorites are Ann Tracy-Lopez, Cristina Cardenas and Glory Tacheenie-Campoy. You can come back next week and bid (reception at 5:30 p.m., Oct. 13; auction at 7 p.m.; tickets $30 single, $50 per couple). Proceeds benefit the nonprofit gallery.

Gallery that might be open:

• Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery, Pima Community College West Center for the Arts, 2202 W. Anklam Road, 206-6942. Call first to see if it's open. The ceramic show New Works: New Visions exhibits Hiro Tashima, Maria Lee and Jay Gogin. Japanese artist Tashima has constructed a large-scale installation in which every figure is a self-portrait: He's an old man, a Western woman, a huge saguaro. Lee, a Hawaiian who got her MFA at the UA, created pieces inspired by her recent work with the National Park Service surveying graves in a leper colony in Molokai. Gogin sticks to wood-kiln fired pottery in traditional shapes. Tentative reception: 6 to 8 p.m.

Galleries open in the afternoon only:

• Philabaum Glass Gallery, 711 S. Sixth Ave., 884-7404, philabaumglass.com. Philabaum and friends give glass-blowing demos. The gallery exhibits luminous paperweights by Paul D. Harrie. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Joseph Gross Gallery, UA campus, at southeast corner of Park Avenue and Speedway Boulevard, 626-4215. All hail those lowly laborers in the art vineyards, the unsung adjuncts who slave away at low wages teaching the young to draw and paint and digitize. The Adjunct Faculty Exhibition at long last lionizes Barbara Bergstrom, Alexandra Cheshire, Matthew Cotten, Ellen Leinbach, Amy Shapiro, Blake Shell and Beata Wehr. Open noon to 5 p.m.

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