Take a long look at Red, White, Blue II," one of 16 mixed- media pieces in Ilze Aviks' exhibition Cosmos." Aviks'
newest series, based on an interpretation of concentric circles, discreetly lines the walls of the intimate,second-floor library of the Durango Arts Center. If you rush through the exhibit, you'll miss the depth and complexity
of this astonishing artist's work. First impressions can be deceiving.
Don't be fooled by the grandiose exhibit title or the comfy book-lined room. This is high-level deception and well
worth a long breath. Aviks' work is so multivalent it challenges one's ideas about art, subject matter and materials,not to mention the received wisdom surrounding common symbols.
Two pieces are overtly political. Red, White, Blue I and II" contain complex, multicolored lace circles resting on top
of commercially printed targets. Black bullet holes" randomly float away from the bull's-eye, evoking one of America's
family-friendly, fun destinations: the shooting range. In II," Aviks adds a little painted bow at the bottom, a tiny
ribbon anchor on what could be an odd, old-fashioned wreath. And then, there's the title - a wry take on cultural
Aviks is a local artist with a national reputation. In her 30-year career, Aviks has explored the simplest forms:
circles, grids and crosshairs as well as an encyclopedia of feminine touchstones such as ribbons, roses, pins, polka
dots and bows. Many of these reappear in Cosmos" but with new, often ironic resonance. Allowing symbols to resonate
lies at the heart of viewing Aviks' art.
Cosmos" appears to be as unassuming as earlier series: X," Rose Petals" or Book of Hours." Crouching underneath
everything is a preoccupation with the idea of perfectionism - its appeal, its danger, and its hard-core Americanism.
In each series, there is a baseline image that seems to spark seemingly endless variations. This month at the DAC, it's
a mechanically printed concentric circle. It looks so ordinary that Aviks directly addresses the problem of instant
recognition by bluntly printing on several pieces: This is a cosmos, not a target." But, of course, it could be
A graduate of the University of Kansas with a degree in painting and art history, Aviks completed a master's in
textiles at Colorado State University and has been exploring metaphors and materials ever since. She has a record of
exhibitions and teaching stints that have taken her across the country and abroad. Much has been written about her, and
her brilliantly designed Web site reveals even more. Check it out: ilzeaviks.com. You can peruse her many series and
read her artist's statements at a slow crawl. The design unfolds carefully and deliberately, which is also a good way
to view the multilayered works in her current show.
Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic. Reach her at "mailto:Jud_reyn@yahoo.com">Jud_reyn@yahoo.com.