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Quetzlcoatl and The Tree of Life_review at Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery

Quetzlcoatl and The Tree of Life_review at Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery

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Published by Blair Schulman
Group show review of Quetzlcoatl at Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery, Kansas City.
Group show review of Quetzlcoatl at Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery, Kansas City.

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Blair Schulman on Dec 15, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Hector Perez,
, acrylic paint.
 Jacory Deon Harold,
The Golden Saint 
, photograph.
Variations on 'The Tree of Life' and 'The Plumed Serpent'
 Thomas Woodward,
Non Est Ad Astra Mollis e Terris Via 
, mixed media print.
Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery919 W. 17th Street, KCMO 64108816-221-2349
Quetzalcoatl and the Tree of Life 
 December 2, 2011-January 21, 2012By BLAIR SCHULMAN
The Gods of the Underworld have morphed from amystical and spiritual world of Mayan lore into dizzyingphysical manifestation at Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery. Theaudience should pause and reflect on theseinterpretations by the dozen or so artists whose worktraces the veneration of this spiritual juggernaut.
Literally meaning “feathered serpent” Quetzalcoatl is a
God of Creation. With a title like that, its cult waswidespread through Mesoamerica, a region and culturein the Americas, where pre-Columbian societiesflourished before the Spanish colonization in the 15thand 16th centuries.The legend is that before the present one, there werefour suns or worlds. Each of these created anddestroyed in different ways. When the fourth sun wasextinguished by floods, the gods wished to create a fifthworld and a new race of humans. The Mayans believedas the year 2012 approaches, our world will end and anew one emerge. To hold this exhibition now is entirelypunctual.Zuni altars from Gene Emerson Friedman are very muchan inclusive presence; chameleon-like, with softelements of kitsch, they blend into the background whileremaining boldly distinctive. Friedman sees anassociation with the Kachina of Zuni Pueblo as morethan coincidental in their relationship to the subject ofQuetzalcoatl. The Kolowisi Kachina is also a featheredserpent and most Zuni believe their traditions are closelyrelated to those of the Aztecs.Inspired by cast-off or damaged statues, Friedman seeksthe divine in all things. In
Tree of Life 
, he cut up several
“rather awful” plastic picture frames to enhance the
sanctity of the individual pieces through their relationshipwith other found elements, including women's belts. Inan attempt to capture the beauty of both Aztec foliatedcrosses and Spanish Baroque decoration he issuccessful.Quetzalcoatl descended to the Underworld, trickingMictlantecuhtli, the god of the dead in Aztec culture, whoretrieved the bones of those perished from the fourthsun. These bones along with his blood gave life to thehumans of the present world. It takes stamina tooverthrow an underworld god and his potency is aptly
portrayed by Luis Merlo’s
(digital print) and
Hector Perez’
(acrylic paint). An undeniable fertilityand dominance in each shows a sexualized containmentof the spirit, its machismo coming through loud andclear. To swipe a line from a play by performance artist
Penny Arcade, “Sex sells candles.”
 The canvases, photos and Friedman altars contain not asingle color or lone idea. Instead, they are an unendingloop of stories that swirl and push breath into the lungsof the legend of Quetzalcoatl, which seems to be the

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