Galleries Galore

Downtown-area galleries welcome fall with a Saturday night open house

Lucinda Young is back in the space she once ran as co-director of Dinnerware.

But this time, it's her artwork that's on view, not her admin work, and for the last year, the space has been Conrad Wilde Gallery, not Dinnerware. She opens a solo show of her mixed-media encaustic paintings, Terrain: The Body of Landscape, this Saturday night, Oct. 7, at Conrad Wilde, during the gallery season kickoff known as The Big Picture.

At least 10 galleries in the Central Tucson Gallery Association will open their doors at once, and at least some of the artists, including Young, will be on hand to meet their admirers. A free bus will run every half-hour from 6 to 9 p.m., taking patrons on a circuit of the galleries, from the Warehouse District, to Fourth Avenue, to Barrio Historico to the UA. The bus starts its run at the corner of Sixth Street and Sixth Avenue; maps are available inside participating galleries.

Last week, Miles Conrad unveiled Young's paintings prematurely, resting them against the walls of the former florist shop.

"She makes multiple layers of translucent oils, encaustic and dry pigment," said Conrad, who opened his gallery in the Fourth Avenue storefront after Dinnerware moved a few blocks west to the Steinfeld Warehouse. "It's very layered, with a lot of work on the surface."

True to the spirit of the gallery, which showcases abstract work in innovative materials, Young doesn't stop at her painterly layers. She also uses a soldering tool to blast drawings and calligraphy into the paintings' wooden base. And she fuses all the layers with a torch, melting the encaustic wax and pigments together.

The paintings allude partly to the artist's own skin, and they tend toward fleshy colors of ochre and peach, and the earthy tones of sienna and forest. But they're not entirely abstract. Incised drawings trail across the surface like veins, tracing outlines of the human body and of horses.

With its rusts and golds and grays, and floating female bodies, "Trace Indications #4" could be an old European cave painting, or a Southwestern pictograph. And Young also pays tribute to Asia, where she was raised, etching Chinese characters into this and many of the works.

The paintings, Young writes in an artist's statement, conjure up not just the body but the multiple geographies of her own life, including her current home in the harsh desert. Recently returning to the pastoral countryside of her native England to be with her father as he died, she began to think about "sacred landscape," she writes, and "about the information held in a scar ... and landscape as the collective body."

Conrad adds: "These are time-consuming works, that go through evolutions."

An encaustic artist himself, Conrad is cheerful as he begins his second year of operations in the notoriously risky art business.

"Tucson is supportive of my vision for the gallery," he says. "We've gotten a lot of great feedback. I'm on track with my business plan. It's going well."

Conrad Wilde Gallery, 210 N. Fourth Ave., 622-8997, Lucinda Young: Terrain: The Body of Landscape. Reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Show closes Saturday, Oct. 28.

Lauren Rabb opened The Gallery at 6th and 6th just last March, so the current show, Layers, of abstract paintings by Jessie Morgan, kicks off her first full season.

"I love being in this space," Rabb said. "I was closed in the summer, which gives me an opportunity to travel around and visit my artists, but I heard this summer was better (for the galleries) than usual."

Like Young, Massachusetts artist Morgan works in multiple layers. She starts with a flat canvas, builds up four thin layers of gesso and modeling paste, and then carves them back into a low-relief sculpture of wavy lines. Morgan paints colored acrylic washes, thinned with water, over these shallow ridges. The resulting paintings glisten, sometimes suggesting ripples on water ("Lyric," 2004) or the fluttering of leaves in a forest ("Cycles II," 2005).

The Gallery at 6th and 6th, 439 N. Sixth Ave., 903-0650. Layers, paintings by Jessie Morgan. Reception 6 to 9 p.m. Show closes Saturday, Oct. 28.

Another abstract painter, Matthias Düwel, opens the art year at Davis Dominguez Gallery. Trained in Berlin, Düwel debuted in Tucson two years ago with big, dark oils evoking the ruins of cathedral-like spaces. His sojourn in the desert--he lives at Rancho Linda Vista and heads the art department at Pima Community College's northwest campus--has changed his art. His new body of work is just as abstract, but his palette is joyful and sunlit.

"AZ Boogie-Woogie," 2006, is a jazzy conglomeration of cavorting circles and lines in bright reds and golds. In "Mall I," Düwel re-creates the new American cathedral, deftly using color to hint at the soaring spaces and bright lights of the temple of conspicuous consumption.

Duwel shares the show with longtime sculptor Ben Goo, who makes equally cheerful geometries in wood, both painted and plain.

Gallery co-owner Mike Dominguez is upbeat as the season commences.

"Things look good for the Central Tucson Gallery Association," he says, though he's disappointed that the planned move of Philabaum Glass Gallery to an adjoining storefront has fallen through.

Davis Dominguez Gallery, 154 E. Sixth St., 629-9759. Sculptures by Ben Goo, paintings by Matthias Düwel. Reception 6 to 8 p.m. Show closes Thursday, Oct. 21.

Other galleries on the Saturday night tour include:

Platform Gallery, 439 N. Sixth Ave., 882-3886. Reception 6 to 9 p.m. Three painters, Kim Moss, Stephanie Shank and Craig Cully, open the fourth season at Platform Gallery. Phoebe McDermott, the director who shepherded the gallery from the beginning, has departed, leaving management for now in the hands of owner Young Soo Seo. Show closes Saturday, Nov. 25.

Raices Taller 222 Art Gallery and Workshop, 222 E. Sixth St., 881-5335. Reception 7 to 10 p.m. The group exhibition Bailes explores the art of dance.

Dinnerware Contemporary Gallery, 101 W. Sixth St., 792-4503. Reception 7 to 9 p.m.

Dinnerware Contemporary Gallery, now in its 27th season, previews donated work to be auctioned off this month. Dinnerware, too, has undergone personnel changes. Executive Director Sarah Hardesty left after a year, and now David Aguirre is acting as executive director, and Molly McClintock as associate director. Show closes with the annual auction, Saturday, Oct. 21.

The Drawing Studio Gallery, 214 N. Fourth Ave., 620-0947. Reception 6 to 9 p.m. A faculty show of works in multiple media by 22 artist-teachers, including Andrew Rush, Lynn Fleischman, Bettina Fink and Josh Goldberg. Show closes Saturday, Oct. 14.

Gallery Centella, 340 S. Convent Ave., 798-3400. Reception 5 to 9 p.m. Formerly known as Studio Centella, the gallery exhibits Beyond Abstraction: Animating the Universe, a show of painting and sculpture by Rodney Alan Greenblat. Influenced by graffiti, cartoons and pop art, the former wunderkind of the East Village, N.Y., art scene is collected in museums from the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York to the San Diego Museum of Art. Show closes Saturday, Oct. 21.

Philabaum Glass Gallery, 711 S. Sixth Ave., 884-7404. The glass-blowing studio will offer demos from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; the small downtown gallery remains open until 8 p.m. Manager Nancy Wilson says the plan to move the uptown gallery, now at St. Philip's Plaza, to the Sixth Street warehouse space "didn't work out." Both the uptown and downtown operations will remain where they are, at least for now.

Joseph Gross Gallery, UA campus near Park Avenue and Speedway Boulevard, 626-4215. Reception 6 to 9 p.m. Curated by Ellen Lupton, DIY, Design It Yourself, is an exhibition of works collected by Maryland Institute College of Art faculty and grad students. Show closes Thursday, Oct. 26.

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