October 15, 2004 - For Art Hunters, a Sea of Treasures

REVIEW by Nancy Salem Tribune Reporter

Think Corrales and think fine dining, antiques and hay rides. But art? Not really. Think again.

The bucolic village along the bosque still has more than its share of howling coyotes, ojos, santos and tchotchkes. But tucked away among the roadside shops and backroads, there's some real art to be found.

What sets the Corrales art scene apart is most of the galleries are artist-owned. What that means to collectors is the standard 100 percent gallery markup is lessened. You're buying straight from the artist, and deals can be found.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary is the Corrales Bosque Gallery, a co-op owned by a group of local artists. It's packed with paintings, jewelry, ceramics and sculpture. The work is figurative and largely routine - the kind of art that would add color and interest to a guest bedroom but not carry a more significant space.

Caresse Kruithof de Chavez's work - acrylic on aluminum - stands out. In "Detail of Woman in a Red Chair," the metal frames a simple fine-line drawing of a Picasso-esque woman against a bold red background.

Shirl Brainard's bright watercolors portray ordinary objects with a twist. Her "10 Sunflowers" gives the viewer petals that curl and turn around the pod like a spider's legs around its body.

And Lincoln Draper's black-and-white photographs of water droplets on leaves evoke minimalist painting. Light and shadow create abstract shapes that transcend the physical form.

For edgier art, Kelly Cozart's House o' Fire Gallery & Sculpture Garden is a find. The sculpture garden has breathtaking work in bronze and steel by Richard Kalas, Ron Hall, Deborah Miller, Katrina Lazko and Cozart.

Hall's free-form steel sculptures blend geometric and rounded shapes into commanding pieces, many topped by more delicate kinetic parts. "Angel Flight" in red-painted steel and "9' Voyager" are large-scale abstract sculpture at its best.

Kalas' forged steel pieces draw power from a Zen-like simplicity. "Jednostraunost `One side' " has the stature and calm of a Chinese temple.

The inside gallery features paintings and small bronzes and sculptural pieces.

Matt Jones/OJ Dingo, a standout at the recent Albuquerque Contemporary show at the Albuquerque Museum, shows his zip-tie creations in "White Dendrites," "Arch top" and "neurons." He continues to amaze in forming complex, light- and form-infused sculptures out of the most mundane of objects.

Cozart's paintings are minimalist blocks of color with the texture and energy of frescoes. "Specific Blu" is a diptych that blends blue and gold while "Matador Red" is imbued with shades of red punctuated by darker and lighter hues bordering on purple and orange. Brush strokes and subtle variations give the acrylics a radiance that belies their simplicity.

Also notable is the work of Rhett Lynch, who covers his canvas with wood chips he then paints with a kaleidoscope of colors. The work jumps out at the viewer in countless sharp, colorful angles.

Also showing abstract painting is Carol Klimek at her sleek Third Moon Gallery. Klimek's oils and mixed-media pieces feature soft squares and rectangles of color in variations of a single shade. "Confined" is in rusts, "Steps" in green and "Passageway" in blue. Many of Klimek's paintings are inspired by an accompanying poem written by her - a fascinating touch that lets the viewer inside the mind of the artist, always helpful in understanding abstracts.

For traditionalists, there's more quality figurative art to be found at the Morning Calm Gallery, which shows large oils by Young-Sook Park, Lisa Oh, L. Martin Pavletich and JoAnn Van Cleave.

And JoeHenry Romero's Passages Gallery shows his oils, including "Engineer," a lovely, light-infused portrait of an old train conductor, plus a nice collection of stone and metal sculpture.

It takes a little work to find the nooks and crannies of art in Corrales, but for the adventurous and persistent, the effort can uncover significant additions to any collection.

Nancy Salem, The Tribune's business editor, is a longtime art collector. Her reviews run the third Friday of the month.