Art inspired by folklore and the spirit world is the connecting thread for three artists now exhibiting at Nicole Longnecker Gallery in “May the Rainbow Always Touch Your Shoulder,” featuring works by sculptor Meredith “Butch” Jack, printmaker Helen Gerritzen and painter Ricky Armendariz.
The theme is most obvious in Armendariz’s woodcuts, backed by vibrant corals and cobalt blues, with animal shapes etched out of the oil in tiny patterned strokes. Appearing like a constellation in the sky, his Coyote (Phaeton, Remix) uses minimalist starburst strokes as the coyote flips through the air, foot extended. In Native American cultures, the coyote spirit animal may lead you to experience the unexpected more fully.
Equally powerful is Saturn and His Children (remix), featuring a bull surrounded by five birds and accompanied by two butterflies. The piece gives off an electric glow, representing its facilitating energy, with Armendariz carving small emanating strokes around the shape of the animal. He uses a different formula in Tlazolteotl As A Horse, focusing on the cobalt hues in this diptych that pays homage to the Aztec’s goddess of filth (sin), vice and sexual misdeeds. Against the flank of the horse he has carved planes, bombs, a helicopter and stars. In spite of the dark theme, the pattern work in this piece is soothing, with winding curves throughout its torso and flowing mane and tale.
His fourth piece, Tu Eres Loca Pero Yo Te Quiero Anyway, is a witty nautical scene of a ship on a rolling sea with the night stars shining bright and a monster octopus in the foreground. It’s a romantic way to illustrate the attractiveness of unpredictable romance.
Helen Gerritzen’s chine collé pieces are similar in tone, inspired by the devastating drought from a few years ago. They’re lovely monochromatic prints with meticulous detail on the sparse branches of dormant leafless trees. With all five of her pieces containing the same title, Hermann Park, 2011, they serve as a fitting tribute to the effects of urbanization on one of our city’s favorite parks.
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Meredith Jack’s steel sculpture, guarding the front of the gallery, is a black lacquered monster straight out of one of the Alien movies. With a double-headed serpent serving as the foot, one head flicking its long tongue, and a long scorpion tail reaching for the sky, In Another’s Garden is definitely otherworldly.
The rest of his sculptures hang from monofilament line, seeming to defy gravity. With a matte charcoal finish, these oversized abstracts are actually constructed of foam and wood and could easily function as props in a big budget science fiction movie. With oversized circle tops morphing into ropes, beams and horns, the pieces in his Ghost series slowly turn and swing in their suspended states.
In the rear gallery, Lance Flowers offers up five works of acrylic and newspaper on canvas in his exhibit titled "The New Invention." They’re monochromatic in tone, with a heavy use of black, and a subject matter that juxtaposes ancient history and modern or futuristic technology.
May the Rainbow Always Touch Your Shoulder continues through August 1, at Nicole Longnecker Gallery, 2625 Colquitt, open Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 713-591-4997 or longneckergallery.com.