By Suzie Buchanan
Ricker has a very cool website
with a lot to see and even more to read hes no dime-a-dozen
watercolor/wildlife/tourism sell-out. You wont confuse his work with a designer
Kleenex box, no; his paintings draw inspiration from historical events and myths.
Take Party for Rousseau:Ricker
depicts the artistic milieu of Paris, 1908, with rich, velvety tones and stylized
characters. Those in the know can pick out Pablo Picasso, Guillaume Apollinaire, Georges
Braques and Gertrude Stein among the guests at a banquet with Big Daddy Henri Rousseau
himself: In the garden is Rousseaus tombstone, inscribed in chalk with a poem by
Apollinaire (along with the paint and brushes the poet left at its foot to accompany his
dead friend to heaven);
Gentle Rousseau you hear us;
We salute you,
Delauney, his wife, Monsieur Queval and I.
Let our bggage through free at heaven's gate.
We shall bring you brushes and paints and canvas
`So that you can devote your sacred leisure
In the light of reality
To painting the way you did my portrait
The face of the stars.
That's a bit deeper than a field of fireweed or a snowcapped
Denali hanging above the fireplace, no? These are paintings that tell stories, paintings
that make you think and dream. If you're intrigued by this description, you'd be silly not
to examine them in person when his 'Alaskan in Florence' show opens at the D Street Café
to coincide with this month's First Friday exhibitions.
Ricker puts a good deal of thought into the
subjects of his paintings; he's serious about who and what he cooses to depict. 'Artists
have unprecedented access to the cultures of the world and the lessons of the past,' he
writes on the website. "My effort has been to learn, extend, and teach these lessons
in a snarrative, figurative, and allegorical format. I select my subjects from around the
world and from among different peoples and times. I attempt to freeze meaning, action, and
setting into a beautiful, thoughtful object which brings lasting enjoyment and divulges
its greatest inseights only to those who are prepared to understand.'
This doesn't mean you need to bring a set of encyclopedias
with you when you go to the D Street Café show, but delving a little deeper into what
you're viewing can only asdd another dimentsion to your experience.
Ricker works as a sign-maker, a career he got into when he
painted letters on a fire truck in New Hampshire a s a favor for a friend --- you've
probably seen his work at the downtown bus terminal or at the Marx Brothers without even
reealizing it. The commercial grind of his career led him to seek other outlets for his
creativity. He may also have been frustrated by the fact that sign painters usually don't
get to send hours delineating the forms of frolicking, naked women with perky tits.
Nudity is an important element in his work, and to jucdge
from some of the messages in his on-line guest book, he appears to have a t least several
willing models-in-waiting. He's even entitled a series of paintings The Nude Excuse.
(Lonely artist-types, take note: guitars aren't the only way to a girl's heart. Just ask
Leo and that fat chick from "Titanic.")
The Alaskan in Florence exhibit referes to Ricker's impending
partiscipation in the Biennale in Italy in December. Another interesting aspect of the
show is that Ricker is auctioning off a two-year lease for two of his paintings, the
aforementioned Party for Rousseau and Change of Seasons. The inimitable Crystal Hutchens
will provide musical entertainment for Friday's reception, beginning at 6 pm at the new
and improved D St. Café. With owner / chef Nure just back from France, this would be an
ideal place to end your gallery walk and have dinner surrounded by cool stuff on the
Donald Ricker's An Alaskan in Florence can be seen through
September at the D Street Café, 427 D Street. A reception will begin at 6 pm and last
until it gets too rowdy.