Travis Louie and Robert Craig at Roq La Rue

Roq La Rue gallery in Seattle has a terrific two-man show going on right now, featuring the work of Travis Louie and Robert Craig.

 Showpages Alternate-Realities Images Images Louie1

 Showpages Alternate-Realities Images Images Craig1 Travis Louie's hypnotic "portraiture" is compelling for its blend of the hyper realistic with the blatantly surreal. Fantastical creatures gaze out from paintings so technically refined (using transparent layers of acrylic paint over a tight graphite drawing on a smooth flat surface) that they look uncannily like old photographs. Adding to the discomfiting presence these animal like characters have are the human expressions- even if the creature in the paintings looks a bit bizarre, it also looks spookily familiar as well.

Robert Craig creates Technicolor dreamscapes where toys, deities, skeletons, and advertising archetypes intermingle and cavort under bright blue skies. Inspired by everything from Michelangelo, Dali, Norman Rockwell, and Rick Griffin to the images on a box of pancake mix, Craig defiantly refuses to raise one influence as loftier than the other, in fact states that while he cites as influence old sci-fi movies, cartoons, his own childhood, Hindu art, LSD, the catholic church, and the death of his daughter, "My paintings have no inherent, intentional meaning because I don't believe that life has any inherent meaning…it just is. I have no great wisdom, moral messages or cosmic profundity to impart in my work. I feel that would only detract from it. Like watching a great movie and a commercial butts in. 'Shut up and paint!' Sez I."