“Cat, Rabbit, Owl” by Jim Kopp at Mariposa Gallery
Anchoring the northwest corner of the Nob Hill Shopping Center, Mariposa Gallery (3500 Central SE) is a treasure trove of functional and fine artworks. During August the downstairs gallery features Menagerie, a series of found-object, folk-influenced paintings by Jim Kopp. The vibrant colors and animal subjects evoke a strong sense of playfulness, best defined by “Zoo,” wherein animals in business suits line up to clock in for their shift. Rabbits and cats stand tall beside each other, staring back at the viewer quizzically, asking what you’re doing in their dream, while you ask the same of them.
Upstairs, find Pat Marsello’s The Nature of Brushwork, a collection of functional pottery and lanterns in addition to wood block paintings. Marsello’s pottery beckons from the shelf with sensual curves, inviting a closer inspection of the delicately painted birds or ethereal orange and black koi. The Asian-style brushwork is suited to the pieces, bringing her creations to life with a flick of the wrist. Both shows run through the end of August, and the gallery is open daily; call 268-6828 or visit mariposa-gallery.com for more info. (Elisa McGovern)
Brave new world
“Figurehead” by Nick Abdalla at Exhibit/208
A few of the sculptures in Nick Abdalla’s Spirit World, his new show at Exhibit/208 (208 Broadway SE), look like sunken sea treasure with their bleached-out forms. Others, flaunting majestic “faces,” symmetrical shapes, woven limbs and decorative scraps of fabric, have an archetypal feel to them. Still others rope and coil about—as white and delicate and smooth as bone. Abdalla’s creations, constructed out of discarded furniture, are both textured and fluid. In the end each one makes up a natural, cohesive whole with a certain primitive elegance pleasing to the eye. The artist, known for his surrealist portraits based on vintage photographs, was struck with a new creative vision drawing on the collective unconsciousness during a trip to Australia. On his return he started his work as a spirited sculptor of found objects. Come see for yourself at the opening reception on Friday, Aug. 8, from 5 to 8pm. Otherwise, check out the exhibit on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 4pm or by appointment. Spirit World runs through Aug. 30. For more information, call Kim Arthun at 450-6884 or check out exhibit208.com. (Alison Oatman)
"That's Where You Need to Be 16" by Willy Bo Richardson at Richard Levy Gallery
How ever you like to beat the summer heat, the RichardLevy Gallery’s (514 Central SW) latest group show, That’s Where You Need to Be, is right there with you. From the cool splash of William Betts’ neo-pointillist beach and water scenes to Maria Park’s lush deep forests painted on Plexiglas cubes, the outdoors looks better from a distance. Up close, Betts’ digitally precise dots and Park’s thick mash of earth tones form little more than a jumble of pretty colors.
Meanwhile, Willy Bo Richardson’s large-scale vertical bands of warm blues and oranges blend into one another, much like the summer sky at dusk, pulling you into the night after staying in the air conditioned house all day. Go all the way to the back room to see Albuquerque-based Xuan Chen’s iPad-sized aluminum screens floating in front of the wall. They bend, and cut-outs open wide, leaving shadows and brilliant rays of color that transverse the geometric angles, suggesting it might be better to stay inside and play on your computer during the day. Come in and cool off through Sept. 19, Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 4pm. For more, see levygallery.com or call 766-9888. (Elisa McGovern)
Ecological maps by Matthew Garcia at NHCC
Digital Ecologies of the Southwest, the new collaborative exhibit at the National Hispanic Cultural Center (1701 Fourth Street SW), asks: How does ecology unite us? Organizers at recent workshops armed volunteers with pen and paper to create stories about native desert plants of the Southwest. The resulting sketches prove both childlike and evocative. (One goofy cactus wears a cowboy hat.) In the next segment, participants took part in cactus-planting tutorials before taking the stage, donning white lab coats and recreating what they had learned in front of the camera. Videos document them going about their task of engaging with the native flora. The last part of the exhibit displays maps of the Southwest divided up along ecological borders in vivid Kool-Aid colors. According to those maps, which ignore state and national boundaries, all of us in this dry yet abundant region must pledge allegiance to our land of the prickly cacti. This free exhibit is open at the Domenici Education Building Tuesday through Friday, 9am to 4:30pm, and runs through Oct. 3. For more information, call the NHCC at 246-2261 or find them online at nationalhispaniccenter.org. (Alison Oatman)