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Invited Resident Artist and Curator Tessa Lubaron Ray Rodriguez The ^Wanderer ̄ exhibition will be held on May 29th at Negative Space Gallery (3820 Superior Avenue). This gallery is a hidden gem of Asia Town called ^a true non-profit host for community interaction ̄.

^Rodriguez¨s art is full of mysticism and symbolism. I feel that his work complements the negative space behind this exhibition. It¨s such a pleasure to be able to represent Ray¨s series. Not. He is a talented artist with a bright future.  ̄

As a kid growing up in Puerto Rico, Rodriguez painted what he called the ^chapter of the story. ̄ As an adult, he studied art at the Pontifical Catholic University in Ponce, Puerto Rico for two years before dropping out to broaden his horizons and move to the United States. He continued his training and education here and received a BFA from Kent State University in 2019.

^When I started making this series, I never thought it would be a series, ̄ says Rodriguez. ^I was just painting, so I tried not to focus on isolation and the negative things that accompany isolation. As I continued to paint the series, I began to feel like the world I was building. The more I drew the picture, the clearer the world became, and the scenes and characters began to appear in the picture. That¨s why I got the title ^Wanderer ̄. This series ended up in the end. By the way, it is a representation of the world I started to create when I couldn¨t fully participate in my world.

Rodriguez¨s work captivates the viewer, draws you into the scenes he evokes, and invites you to wander in your head and immerse yourself in the ^super-reality ̄ of landscapes and characters. Relax with horned creatures on the night beaches of the strange alien planet, get lost in the desert with mysterious frowning pyramids, or approach the exit to a magical castle in another world. Hmm.

In the work ^Foresight, ̄ a bird sucks a pipe and sticks its head out of an arched doorway. A waterfall runs down from the entrance to the barren desert plains where cacti burn in the sun. Discovered in the caves of the Puerto Rican islands were the Tainos sucking pipes and the naturalistic depictions of owls, turtles, frogs, fish and other important creatures of the Tainos. Magic and death. The Tainos of Puerto Rico were slaughtered, enslaved, infected with illness by Christopher Columbus and his crew, and their cultural heritage was permanently destroyed. Perhaps this work is a commentary on this cultural pedigree.

Another piece shows a bird holding a cable in its beak. This cable connects to two floating pill-shaped portals that take you to another dimension. Ground power lines and transformers are casually placed in the background. In Rodriguez¨s work, it¨s not clear where you are, who faces what, but it feels like you¨re looking into a scene from the artist¨s surrealistic spirit.

^I¨m inspired by surrealist artists like Remedios Varo and Dali, as well as contemporary artists like James Jean and Inca Essenhai, ̄ says Rodriguez. ^My personal focus is on creating images with emotions, visuals, and colors that captivate the viewer. Sometimes I get inspiration from myths, subconsciousness, and dreams. Ultimately. Wants to draw something weird and familiar.  ̄

Many of Rodriguez¨s works feature the expression of a powerful warrior-like woman carrying a sword and birds of prey. ^Sorceress ̄ depicts a beautiful woman in a hood with four arms. One is to swing the cane. Dual wield. Another woman tries to remove the hood, as if she were speaking to an invisible audience with the depth of her speech. In ^Enchantress ̄, a woman who lights the upper half of her face descends from the arch of the starry sky. The owl grabs the wrist. Owls are known for their paranormal wisdom, majestic silence, and ferocious intelligence. Owls often represent spiritual influence, wisdom, and knowledge in Greek, Roman, and Celtic mythology. In Africa, owls are associated with witchcraft, wizards, and witchcraft.

In this depiction, the bird is trying to escape or return to the mistress¨s slave to execute the command. The woman is bright orange, majestic, dressed in flowing clothes, and fierce in a fiery dome. Is she a myth, a legend, a princess, or a queen? I don¨t know for sure, but she¨s a powerful expression of femininity, a fascinating viewer who can¨t help but succumb. It evokes a sense of mysticism.

Some of the characters that Rodriguez likes in fiction are powerful female characters. ^Swords and fire can represent power, especially in fantasy. If I were to draw a woman, I wanted to draw a powerful, inspiring, magical woman, ̄ he explained. I am.

The walls of the Root Cafe in Lakewood, where Rodriguez works, are often decorated with Rodriguez¨s work. The cafe is known as the ^Community Clubhouse ̄ featuring caffeinated drinks, locally sourced ingredients, local art, music and events.

^This last series was not only fun to make, but also healing, ̄ Rodriguez concludes. ^Every painting is alive in my head and it feels like I¨m building a new world on multiple canvases. I want to extend the ideas I¨ve explored here, so I¨ll be re-characterizing some of my future paintings. I hope that some of them will appear.  ̄

Wanderer will be on display until June 26th, when Negative Space will hold a closing reception from 5pm to 8pm.

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