Marecak Diptych

Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art

Unlike Pollock, Edward combined figuration with abstraction for the rest of his career, meaning he didn't move toward abstract expressionism, but to its only credible rival in mid-century modern painting: figural abstraction. This links his work to that of Britton, Donna's old mentor, who was Colorado Springs's premier sculptor of the time.

By the mid-1950s, Edward was laying out complicated scenes that were typically organized into overall patterns made up of simple geometric shapes, especially rectangles and triangles. In many of the paintings, he puts together big shapes of often dreamy colors like the pieces of a puzzle. One notable example is "The Potter," from 1959, an abstracted portrait of Donna working on a chalice at the potter's wheel. In this way, the pictures read like stained glass, quilts or even tapestries. There are also several of Edward's hooked rugs in the show, including one of the Trojan War, a favorite topic.

Edward's technique features roughly and expressively painted elements, and he often preserved brush marks in the pigment so that they stand out from the surface, thus establishing secondary patterns within the overall framework of the compositions. In "Seven Wise and Foolish Virgins," from 1966, the cartoon-like and whimsically depicted women are conceived as vertical elements à la caryatids; they are lined up across the picture and reduced to decorative patterns created from decorative shapes.

"Pagoda Pot With Lid," by Donna Marecak, glazed and fired ceramic.
"Pagoda Pot With Lid," by Donna Marecak, glazed and fired ceramic.
"Witch Confused by Perspective," by Edward Marecak, oil on canvas.
"Witch Confused by Perspective," by Edward Marecak, oil on canvas.

Details

Through December 9, Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art, 1311 Pearl Street, 303-832-8404, www.kirklandmuseum.org.For a complete slide show of the exhibit, click here.

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His work of the 1970s follows a similar course, though many of the pieces are notably simpler in composition. A good example is "Witch Confused by Perspective," from 1976, where a woman, seated at a table, disintegrates before our eyes into clusters of parallelograms and rhomboid shapes.

Toward the end of the 1980s, Edward subtly changed direction. Though still interested in fantasy — all those witches — his paintings became denser and darker as he approached the end of his life. One particularly haunting piece, 1993's "Mother Earth Watching Over Them," is a flattened and stylized rendition of Edward and Donna in their graves with an old woman looking down at them. The conventionalized trees across the top and the checkerboard details of the snow-covered graveyard across the middle mask the somber subject with lyricism. Edward died that same year.

As the saying goes, "Life is short, but art is long," and Marecak Diptych proves that a decade after their deaths, Donna and Edward still have something to show us.

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