Deep within 

La Vida
reception 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Friday, June 12
through July 3 at Creative Spirit Art Gallery
820-A Lake Baldwin Lane
donations accepted; 407-898-8343

Urban art remains the foundation of the paintings by former tattoo artist Erick D. Marquez. His tag, "Erock," is embedded in many pieces along with the symbolic narrative suggested by skulls, skeletons and other depictions of death and transformation, yet this artist reveals inner transformation in La Vida.

Marquez's tattoo work and street-art style still informs much of this show, like "Bust Your Jaw," a delightfully gruesome, fleshless lower jaw and evil-eyed head, with his graf appearing in gentle 3-D to the left. Below this horizon lies a fascinating underworld of tunnels and bubble chambers, while above, smoke and black bubbles lazily rise up from a ruin. "Choose Your Words," inscribed in the corner, reveals deliberation and rejection of others' influence on him.

Marquez's artistic vision now includes iconic figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus and John F. Kennedy, rendered with painstaking brushwork. Like Hercules cleaning the stables, Marquez's meticulous paintings are perhaps a redemptive effort to buff out his years spent writing on subway signs and walls in New York City. A self-portrait also sheds his raucous past: Instead we see the artist concentrating on his work, prayerlike; the computer in the background is so domestic, and the heavy drapes suggest a shutting-out of turbulent forces. "Strength Through Faith" is another glimpse at this artist in transition, here in the classic Pietà pose; he eschews color and makes a statement with this work as a grisse, or in shades of gray.

Artists tend to wrestle within the straitjacket of style and take fewer risks as they age; Marquez enjoys taking risks with new directions, and it is paying off.

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