Pride says goodbye, 
circus comes to town

Joe Alvarez stands next to his fanicful figures painted on wood. The "Clowns and Lobsters" show at the La Matadora was a family affair with several Alvarez family members showing their work. The show has a distinct circus theme and is therefore very fun and lighthearted.

Visitors to Joshua Tree’s Downtown Nights Saturday found a Pride month exhibit in the Art Queen’s mirrored gallery and a light-hearted circus-themed show at La Matadora.

Highlights at the Art Queen included Aaron Sheppard’s multimedia piece “Hercules Battles Hydra”; a handsome pair of figures wearing the clothing creations of Steve Dyson, titled “Jen’s Bondage Coat” and “Anubis Duster”; a sensuous sculpture by Philip Pirolo titled “Bloom”; and the fun “Palm Springs Princess” by Rik Livingston.

Around the corner, La Matadora Gallery offered a fun and light-hearted art show with a circus theme. The exhibit was truly a family affair.

Buzz Campbell, Joe Alvarez’ father-in-law, is displaying his bright sculptures of fantastic flying machines, boats, submarines and characters. He sculpts his pieces from wood, foam or fiberglass, then applies a texture of paper or tin foil to their skin before painting them.

Joe Alvarez makes fanciful paintings on wood slats. His subjects are half-man, half-animal and resemble circus or carnival posters — as if “Wind in the Willows” met “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

His badger, Bartholomé, is a tamer, an outlaw carney, an ex-priest and magician.

His Cecilia is a knife-throwing weasel billing her act as having “Fantastico Dramaturgas Impalements.”

His Eliza Ocutora is a ram-headed dancer and acrobat who invites crowds to “Step Right Up.”

Outside the gallery, Sabrina Alvarez, Joe’s daughter, was selling her handmade jewelry and some of her father’s jewelry for Downtown Nights. Sabrina makes little clown-faced pins, while Joe makes pins of miniature paintings with big-top images in tiny, ornate frames.

Anyone feeling the least bit blue should check out this show. It will lift anyone’s spirits. The exhibit will be up through Aug. 4, when there will be a closing event from noon to 5 p.m. Regular gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and the gallery is located at 61857 Twentynine Palms Highway in downtown Joshua Tree.

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