Fine art

Movement of time

Contrasting artists Courtney Azzara and Ron Lopez at 203 Fine Art

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'There is great art in minimalism, and a spontaneity in the absence of work that feels very complete," said Eric Andrews, who owns 203 Fine Art along with his partner Shaun Richel. "There's also great art that springs from influence, from having absorbed the methodology of a variety of artists. They are two totally different approaches and they both work."

It is this very juxtaposition that Andrews and Richel have chosen to highlight in their latest show, "Rhythm and Shape," featuring a two-artist collection of distinctive paintings and sculptures.

Courtney Azzara, based in Los Angeles, and Taos resident Ron Lopez are the featured artists in the exhibition, which opens with a reception Sunday (July 1) from 1-4 p.m. 203 Fine Art is located at 1335 Gusdorf Road, Suite I. Refreshments will be served, and admission for all is free.

Although their approaches are divergent, the works of both artists share an appreciation for the movement of time throughout their works in both visual and visceral senses, and both echo elements of abstract expressionism, a post-World War II movement that gave birth to some of the most prominent names in recent American art.

Azzara, Andrews noted, is as much a master of thread as of paint, using stitchery as "an unconventional entryway into the act of painting (that) gives her work its own breadth and unique rhythm."

Whether part of the story itself, or used as an accent in delicate mixed media pieces on paper and unstretched canvas, or serving as a frame for an oil painting on linen, her simple yet masterful stitches provide a focal point that is seamless(no pun intended) with the integrity of the entire composition.

The spontaneity of working with paint combined with the "zen" of stitching is the hallmark of her artistry. Azzara manages to take minimal brushstrokes and tonal threads to a sweet mix of the contemporary and the timeles, in what feels reminiscent of the reductive style of Taos artist Agnes Martin.

The artist graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, where she developed an appreciation for garment construction and design, and which became the basis for incorporating simple straight stitching into her paintings. "There is a sense of your eye following along with the line, and I think it gives the piece a sense of movement," she said.

She further explained, "In my work, the contrasting expression of time is created through the disparity between the impulsive guttural painting and the paced, repetitive action of stitching. The materials and imagery I use may vary, but always through this balancing act I am working to achieve a sense of timelessness: a transcendence of time."

"I see art making as a way of recording the impression you get of an experience, a place or a person. I have a dream of visiting the sites of Paleolithic cave paintings to see and feel the space that holds these early forms of image making," she said.

The self-taught Lopez, a longtime Taos artist, is known for both creating three-dimensional objects from steel and wood and for his dynamic paintings, all of which take inspiration from the masters Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, John Chamberlain and David Smith.

According to press information provided by 203 Fine Art, Lopez said, "I hope people will enjoy my work and not try to figure it out," as his work doesn't "have any agenda beyond sharing unadulterated emotions and childlike fascination with the world."

Before his nod to Chamberlain's work, famously made from found car parts, and the similar works of Mark de Suvero, Lopez's foray into sculpture began with stone and wood. Eventually, he found perhaps his greatest influence in works of Smith, which he remarked, "clarified my intent at the time and inspired me to start working with steel."

Today, armed with welding, grinding, woodworking and cutting tools, Lopez transforms fenders, bumpers and other metal castoffs into delightfully bold sculptures in which you recognize the history of their origins and delight in their artful transformation. Others join wood and metal in abstract shapes that, from any direction, dazzle the eye.

Likewise, his paintings are nuanced by the action and movement of abstract expressionism, replete with bold colors and brushstrokes.

What both artists do have in common was expressed by John Chamberlain, and was quoted by The New York Times in his obituary: "Stopping is the key; you have to know when to stop."

"Words I live by," said Azzara.

Ron Lopez said, "I make a piece and, in a few days, when I come back to it, if it still excites me, I think, well, it works."

203 Fine Art is a destination gallery, known for its extensive collection of the early moderns and important contemporary artists. "We are open every day by appointment for a personalized art experience," Andrews said.

"Rhythm and Shape" is on view by appointment through July 23.

For more information about this special exhibition or to schedule an appointment, call (575) 751-1261, or go to 203fineart.com.

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