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Back-alley Magic 

Rodney Wood finds painting a new "Soul Rejuvenator"

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Local artist Rodney Wood is in the midst of a personal revolution.

"The truth is that paintings are all I'm going to do," he tells me shortly after I arrive at his studio. "I've sold my sculpture tools. I'm done being eclectic."

Wood, once the director of the Business of Art Center in Manitou Springs, has tried his hand at many different kinds of art, from jewelry to solar etchings to sculpture. A few remnants of these days remain in his studio, where a piece he calls "The Soul Rejuvenator" imagine the love child of a rickshaw and a View-Master sits by the front door. But even that is ringed by small paintings that Wood says helped fuel his current obsession.

Wood says his immersion in painting evolved in a way he couldn't have forced or predicted. "When I was 24 years old, I could have taken a million classes and never painted this way. I wasn't ready to fail and just not give a shit."

He didn't have to fail for long. From the look of the oil paintings Wood is about to unleash at the Rubbish Gallery, it's hard to believe he's been doing this for two years, and not 20. His Magic Reality will be composed of 12 to 15 paintings portraying dark and beautiful moments Wood says "could happen but, boy, would it be a magical moment when they did."

In "The Rose," a woman stands against a dark background with arms folded across her chest. Two disembodied hands clutch her shoulders from behind; the work is both elegant and unnerving. In "The Aviary," bright blue birds circle a woman with outstretched arms, while a tornado looms in the background.

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"The daughter of one of my models said, "I wonder if those birds are protecting her, or if she's protecting those birds. And is that tornado coming, or has it already been there?' That's as much of a payback as collecting cash for the painting," Wood says. "I'd rather not do other things to pay rent, but there are other barometers of success for me. One is to just sit back and watch and listen, and hopefully [the viewer has] an emotional reaction and not just an intellectual one."

Wood is excited to see what kind of response the paintings will receive at Rubbish, which opened in February. It should be a great venue for Wood's edgy new work.

"I love that it's in an alley. I love that people don't know about it," Wood says. "There is courage in having a contemporary gallery that's run by artists. Their goal isn't to make a gazillion dollars. [Their goal is] just to show significant contemporary art."


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Magic Reality: Solo exhibition featuring oil paintings by Rodney Wood

Rubbish Gallery, 17B Bijou St., in the alley between Bijou Street & Pikes Peak Avenue

Friday, Oct. 6, and Saturday, Oct. 7, 1-10 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 8, 1-5 p.m.

Call 440-5638 for more.

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