Recent grad pays homage through art

By Jacqueline Kuder
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, January 20, 2006

A UA graduate paid tribute to a few of the teachers who inspired him in a new art exhibit that will be displayed through the end of the month.

Craig Wiggins, who recently graduated from the UA with a bachelor of fine arts, featured four paintings in an opening reception at the lounge last night in his exhibit titled "Friends and Faculty." All of them are portraits of influential teachers, he said.

The exhibit in the Kachina Lounge in the Student Union Memorial Center features portraits of teachers Chris Dacre as "The Natural," Paul Ivey as "The Intellectual," Jesse Billimac as "The Maker" and Matt Cotton as "The Artist," Wiggins said.

Done in an acrylic medium, the portraits are eerily lifelike, brightly colored and almost look like photographs at first glance, but Wiggins said he just hopes they are appreciated.

None of the paintings are for sale, because Wiggins plans to give the portraits to each of his subjects - his way of "paying homage to people," he said.

"I hope my instructors are happy with them," he said. "I was trying to gain intimacy, to see a personal relationship. Portraiture is very intimate."

Students in the lounge seemed to enjoy the portraits, and several commented on how colorful they are.

"It's an interesting sense of perspective, and comparatively speaking, I think they're a lot more interesting than the last exhibit," said Derek Hanslep, a philosophy senior. "It's nice to see some color in here."

Electrical engineering sophomore Jay Fernandez said he was impressed by the exquisite detail.

"I thought they were photographs when I first saw them. There's an exceptional amount of detail, and great shading," he said.

Others, like history graduate student Neil Prendergast, admired the portraits for their realistic element.

"I really like the exhibit. I saw the artist put up the lights the other day. I like the realism; there's a softness to it that's pleasing," Prendergast said. "None of the people look extraordinary, but they're all very interesting."

Wiggins has also had artwork exhibited at the International Print Exchange in New Zealand and Australia in 2004, and at the Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery in both 2004 and 2005, according to his biography at the exhibit.

The Kachina Lounge and Gallery is usually only reserved for art students, to give them an opportunity to display their work, said Lucinda Del Rincon, curator of the Kachina Lounge and Gallery.

"It's a good opening opportunity for students," she said. "We just get students out there. There's not a lot of places in Tucson for students to exhibit their work."

The Kachina Lounge and Gallery, located on the third floor of the Student Union Memorial Center is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. The gallery can be reached by calling 621-6142. The exhibit will run until Feb. 1.