Home is more than just a place to hang your hat, it's art!

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By John Werenko

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet we hear the memorable lines, “A plague on both your houses!” The exhibition at the Art Center that opens Friday, with a reception from 5-7 p.m., is anything but a plague. The exhibit is a celebration of not only the house but the home as well.

An example of this play between the word house and home is Terry Foxx’s “Childhood Home.” The title says it all. It is, in fact, a picture of her childhood home in Utah that no longer exists. In Christine Brown’s “3 Prospect Ave, Troy, N.Y., My Home,” the late nineteenth century Victoriana house, with its white clapboards, glassed sun porch and mullioned corbels supporting the deep overhanging steeply pitched roof exudes a feeling of permanency. She is a “Duchess” that has withstood decades of northern New York winters.

Kathleen Fraser’s “English Country Cottages” and “English Churchyard Dovecote” tug at one’s wanderlust the way lavish photographs in “Fodor’s Travel Guide to the British Isles” do for the potential tourist.

The majority of the works in this show are two dimensional: painting, prints, drawings and photographs. There are, however, several three-dimensional pieces and many of them are birdhouses. Phil Kilgour, Terry Foxx, Thelma Hahn and Kathryn Blackmun are masters of the genre. As Kilgour, ACFL Board Chairman said, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

Kerry Foxx Frazier’s pied-a-terre for birds is made of mosaic glass, dare we say, “Birds who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” This is followed by Thema Hahn’s cat house for birds titled, “It’s the Cat’s Meow.” Kathryn Blackmum’s houses are, “All a Twitter” with titles like “Twitter Tower” and “The Tower of Tweet.” It seems that humor is contagious among these architects of bird land.

Among the painters of note, many adhere to the ubiquitous imagery of the John Gaw Meem School of New Mexico Pueblo style architecture. Artists like Jim Gautier, Janet Shaw Amtmann, Midge Tosten Kilgour, Scott James, Sally Hayden Von Conta, Corinna Stoeffl and Linda Cox all display their outstanding talent at representing this wonderful indigenous form of building houses.

In contrast to the rural feel of adobe houses we have the urban landscape. Chuck Gibbon’s oil painting New Mexico cityscapes gives one the feel of giant full scale outdoor murals.

These images could provide a trompe l’oeil, literally trick the eye, fresco that one finds on the sides of buildings adjacent to a mercado in Martinez Town or Second Street NW. A contemporary look to modern southwest architecture is found in the work of Mary Cost with her “Entrance to the City” and “Shadow” as well as the obliquely photographed images of buildings found in the work of Deborah Moll. Jill Rushton, Raymond Audain, Robert Estep and Sue Ann Mikda also give townscapes romantically represented in soft tones and evening light.

The arresting black and white photographs of Gail Diane Yavonovich highlight the absence of those humans who built and then abandoned the structures they inhabited long ago. Lastly, are works by Chris Judson, “Castle Blanca” in stained glass, the jewelry of Debbie Merhege and an acrylic collage by Carol Mullen titled, “Dog Days of Summer in the Fixer Upper.”

In addition to showing in “Houses and Buildings Galore,” Phil Kilgour is exhibiting his paintings in the Portal Gallery. Known for his exquisite Ikibana stone vases, Kilgour more recently began painting southwestern landscapes.

His painting techniques using impasto, dry brush, scumbling, palette knife and his use of raw colors demonstrate the high degree of energy and passion that he brings to what would otherwise be a mundane landscape.

Werenko is the executive director of the Art Center at Fuller Lodge.