‘Wheel of (Mis)Fortune’ by Michael Andryc. Courtesy photo
“Say Goodbye to Grandma’ by Michael Andryc. Courtesy photo
BY DIANE STOFFEL
Step Up Gallery
The Hour of the Wolf(Man): A Retrospective by Michael Andryc opens June 7 in Step Up Gallery at Mesa Public Library.
Wolves will yodel, howl and prowl from June 7 – July 5 during “The Hour of the Wolf(Man),” a 50-year retrospective by Michael Andryc. The pack will gather in Step Up Gallery on the top level of Mesa Public Library in historic downtown Los Alamos. Highlighting both released and heretofore unreleased acrylic paintings and illustrated manuscripts, the exhibit will span Andryc’s career as a self-taught “outsider/insider” artist.
Originally a writer of fiction, Andryc was published in the prestigious North American Review at the age of 30. At the suggestion of his former wife Glendha, he turned to painting his “thinly disguised” autobiographical stories to better support their young family while they built a rustic stone house off the grid near Santa Fe. It was Glendha who bought Michael his first set of acrylic paints.
Calling his work “Sophisticated Primitive” Contemporary Folk Art Pop, Andryc initially showed his work at the Dawning Hummingbird Gallery on the Taos Plaza and afterwards became a mainstay at the Railyards and Cathedral Park in Santa Fe for 30 years. Following a devastating fire in 2012 at Westside Studios, his home studio for more than two decades, he relocated to Albuquerque. He then began trekking the “art loop” from Bernalillo, Jemez Springs and Los Alamos and back to Albuquerque with roundabouts to Corrales and Belen.
In 1997, Andryc had his first solo show entitled “Selling My Own Grandmother” in Washington, D.C. at the American Center of Polish Culture (acquired by the Kosciuszko Foundation in 2010). Since that time, he has been invited to exhibit at juried national and international venues in New York, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and in his birth state of Rhode Island. In 1992, he was listed as one of the “leading folk artists of the 20th Century” in an exhibition by the same title at The Emerson Gallery, Rockland Center for the Arts in West Nyack, N.Y.
Self-taught and experimental, Andryc creates a flat, stark surface upon which he makes his folk-like figures “pop” using swashbuckling colors and dark, curvaceous lines. He says his many “characters” (alter egos, archetypes, spirit guides) represent the “interior and exterior conflicts” of his own personal human condition with themes running life’s gambit. Continuing in the literary vein, he incorporates titles that add humor, irony and a punch of social commentary.
In the late 1960s, Andryc discovered the illuminated manuscripts created by monks during the Middle Ages inspiring him to write several of his own. One is a newspaper sized, six-page manuscript entitled Introduction to the Buzzard Cult which will be on display. Another work in book form, The Tower of the Emerald Maid, is fashioned out of paper on wood adorned with leather fringe and rhinestones. Both manuscripts feature the Wolf(Man).
Each of Andryc’s creations pay tribute to the world of imagination. “I paint figures and narratives to express how I feel about being alive in today’s world. Plus, I like to put in a good word for imagination,” he says.
Andryc says he is looking forward to seeing a broader display of his work all in one place. “I’m happy the retrospective sort of goes from ‘hell to Hallmark – so to speak,” he says. “The Hour of the Wolf(Man)” will feature paintings from more than a dozen series spanning his career, including three new canvases and several vintage pieces finally framed and making their débuts.
“The Hour of the Wolf(Man)” is the culmination of more than a dozen group exhibits with distinct themes and juries and a solo Portal Gallery show at the Fuller Lodge Art Center (FLAC) during the past decade. To view a slide show of art in the exhibit, go to: www.stepupgallery.org/current-exhibit/
The opening reception for “The Hour of the Wolf(Man)” is Saturday, June 10 from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. The artist will give a short Gallery Talk at 3 p.m. The public is invited. Refreshments will be served and there is no cost to attend. The gallery is open the same hours as Mesa Public Library: Monday – Thursday 10am-8pm; Friday 10am – 6pm; Saturday 10am – 5pm; closed on Sunday.
Michael Andryc lives and works in Taylor Ranch between the petroglyph escarpment and the Rio Grande where he enjoys frequent nature walks in the Open Spaces and along the bosque. Of Polish ancestry – all four grandparents emigrated from the Old Country – Andryc moved from Rhode Island to Durango, Colorado, in 1970 to escape the New England winters and to fulfill his father’s dream of seeing the Great American Southwest. His family lives on both west and east coasts, near Puget Sound and Narragansett Bay, respectively. Loving the terrain, skyscapes, rich history, and immersive art scene, he has called N.M. home for the past 40 years. For more information, visit: www.michaelandryc.com
Albuquerque artist Michael Andryc. Courtesy photo