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Art exhibit displays contrasting styles

Paintings and drawings feature nature along with meditative illustrations

The artistic styles of Erika M. Burrows and Marco A. "Tony" Oviedo II could not be much more different, yet the engaged couple make a harmoniously supportive team.

Between now and April 30, Burrows and Oviedo will have a series of paintings and drawings titled "A Household of Beauty: A Tale of Trees & Flowers and the Value of Line," on display at Irysh Mac's Coffee House, 110 Yale Blvd. S.E. The exhibit features the contrasting elements of Burrows' botanical-based illustrations and Oviedo's highly linear and meditative images.

Both artists are working toward degrees at UNM's College of Fine Arts, and they come from strongly artistic backgrounds. Burrows' father is a painter, while Oviedo's father is a sculptor and his family owns a gallery. Both artists have had art in several gallery shows.

Burrows said "A Household of Beauty" is an exploration of natural elements and the ways that human beings interact, collide and synthesize with nature. Her paintings and drawings are almost exclusively based on actual and microscopic pictures of plants. Oviedo said the show is about his personal mythology: "the everyday exploration of materials and the meditative qualities of creating things." He investigates the application of ink and graphite to utilize the process of making art, rather than simply striving toward an end point in a piece.

On a day-to-day basis, both Burrows and Oviedo are very broad in artistic scope. "Throughout history, most cultures never had a word for art, and I believe that is ideally how it should be," Oviedo said. "Both Erika and I strive to live life artfully. Creating drawings and paintings make it easy to be artful. But simple activities like gardening or washing dishes are just as important."

Burrows adds that she can't imagine herself doing one type of art all the time.

"To have a body of work that isn't continuously evolving can only be detrimental to one's growth as an artist and a person," she said.

Therefore, the couple is constantly experimenting with different media and conceptualizations of how their art fits into life as a whole.

Burrows and Oviedo's products are aesthetically distinctive; the fundamental values of their art stem from the same source. The two have been together for more than three years, and as a result are continually involved in a living dialogue of passing ideas between each other. This, perhaps, is the biggest reason why Burrows and Oviedo's art flows so well together despite the artists' contrasting styles.

"Art inevitably spurs art from one another somehow," Oviedo said.

Another essential part of the show is its location. Burrows and Oviedo purposely chose the coffee shop atmosphere to display their artwork rather than opting for a typical gallery setting. They said that the show is very much about a human environment, and when art is exhibited in a gallery, that feeling of humanity is stripped from it.

"A coffee shop is really a utopian place to see art, which is part of our underlying theme," Oviedo said. "In a gallery, people are there to buy art, not to appreciate it or just be around it. People go to coffee shops to buy coffee and relax."

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When art is incorporated into this less rigid environment, the couple said, art becomes the experience of the coffee shop. After that, if people are moved, the experience of living with art becomes that much more enjoyable.

"We want to change how people think about art," Oviedo said, "to encourage everyone to live artfully."

Burrows notes the issue of high price in most art, particularly in a gallery format.

"We have made a conscious effort to price our art as low as possible," she said. "That way, the pressure that comes with buying a piece of art will be eased as well. We'd love for people to be able to buy our art if it moves them - to take a part of the experience away with them. But only if they want to."

Though neither artist has a definite plan for the future, they are certain that they will be involved with art throughout their lives.

"I want to let my life lead my art, and what is pertinent at the time will shape where art takes me," Burrows said.

Oviedo said he is interested in someday creating renewable energy vehicles, perhaps remanufacturing cars to run off electricity and other natural elements, or building ecologically friendly houses. He said that by doing these things, his art can manifest itself in substantial ways to the overall quality of life. No matter what, Burrows and Oviedo agree that they each want to live flourishing and varied lives.

An opening reception for "A Household of Beauty: A Tale of Trees & Flowers and the Value of Line" will be held at Irysh Mac's Saturday from 7-9 p.m., and the display can be viewed Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. throughout April.

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