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Your curated Saturday afternoon: two art shows

What better way to spend a lazy Saturday than looking at abstract paintings that explore fragility of the Earth? So get yourself to Left of Center Gallery (2207 W. Gowan Road) around noon for the opening of Terra Infirma, a show of abstract paintings, installations and other work by Philippines-born Las Vegan Jevijoe Vitug. Now, before you groan, Aaaabstraaaacts — they’re so hard to make sense of, check this: Vitug, by the way one of the valley’s more prolific artists, isn’t merely pushing gobs of pigment around a canvas with mysterious intent. These paintings are based on maps, the paint thickly applied and then, before they dry, tilted upward so the paint shifts and drools a little. Not only do the resulting canvases “oscillate between abstraction and representation, between control and chance,” they then become metaphors for catastrophic ways the land changes, either as the result of natural disasters (like the typhoon that recently struck his homeland) or manmade indignities (oil spills, radiation leaks, etc.) Thus the title, Terra Infirma — land that’s not so firm.

Tip: Don’t hesitate to approach Vitug at the opening and ask about the work — he’s friendly and voluable and gives good chat. The opening lasts until 3.

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But you can’t stay that long, art fans. A mere 6.6 miles away — 13 minutes as the Google Map flies — is the Nevada State Museum (in Springs Preserve, on Valley View and U.S. 95), where you’re going to take in Wally’s World: the Loneliest Art Collection in Nevada.

Who’s Wally? Wally Cuchine, formerly the director of cultural tourism and some other stuff in Eureka County —the Eureka Opera House, for example — is well-known as a collector of Nevada art. He’s said to own some 1,000 pieces, an astonishing thing that makes you wonder how much wall space the dude has. A small percentage of his holdings has been culled by Northern Nevada artist Jim McCormick into this traveling exhibit. If Vitug’s show hints at the vitality of what’s being produced in Nevada today, Cuchine’s provides a solid base of continuity.

Another Saturday well-spent.

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