Husband-and-wife team return to Studio 116 with new show
FARMINGTON — There's nothing complicated about the philosophy Robb Rocket applies to life.
"Do art, have fun," the Farmington artist said by phone last week while enjoying a family reunion in Colorado with his wife and fellow artist Tina Marie Farrow, a.k.a. Roswell. The two were enjoying a weekend of relaxation before returning here for the opening of their joint show this weekend at Studio 116. The exhibition will feature 15 to 17 of their pieces, most of which will be making their Four Corners debut. The two artists say their work is stylistically different, but it reflects the same era, and that's what makes it complementary.
Both artists use the word whimsical in describing their work, and neither takes anything close to a traditional approach to their creative efforts. Farrow calls her work mid-century modern with an abstract twist, and Rocket tosses around such phrases as burlesque, hot rod, tiki and contemporary street to characterize his. In that respect, that may make this the perfect summertime art exhibition, especially since the opening reception for the show will coincide with downtown's annual Rod Run Show N' Shine Block Party, a street party that showcases hundreds of classic vehicles.
"Neither one of them takes themselves too seriously, although that's not to say their art isn't serious and high quality," said Studio 116 owner Karen Ellsbury, who is doing her second show with Farrow and Rocket. The two had their work featured at the Studio 116 grand opening celebration in July 2012, an event Ellsbury recalled with great fondness.
"Robb had a piece that had Spam in it," she said, laughing. "So we had a Spam cookoff."
While this show won't feature any pork byproducts, Rocket and Farrow don't abide by many — if any — rules when it comes to their work. Farrow said she got her fill of that when she was an artist and art student in Albuquerque in the 1990s, working mostly on commission and doing a lot of portrait work while studying at Central New Mexico Community College and the Harwood Art Center.
"It gets a little too structured in the creativity part of it," she said.
Looking to rachet up the fun component in her work, she embraced the Googie style that is known for its color and its Space Age elements five or six years ago. That's about the same time she moved to Farmington. She and Rocket married three years ago and now share the Retro Mod Studio.
Farrow said she's created seven new pieces for the show, which are part of a series. She said that represents a bit of a departure for her, describing some of her less-recent work as cityscapes and mixed-media work.
Her approach to her work received some validation a few weeks ago when she claimed "Best of Show" honors in the "Gateway to Imagination" national juried art exhibition at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park for her piece "Outlook." Farrow acknowledged she was excited about that development, but she said her biggest reward is simply having the freedom to enjoy art for what it is.
She would likely get no argument on that point from Rocket, who said he's always been attracted to the kind of style that is reflected in his work now.
"I've been drawing since I can remember," he said. "I was lucky in that I could always draw. My dad was into cars, so I grew up around cars, as well as Estes Rockets (a manufacturer of model rocket products) and Hot Wheels. I was really influenced by that."
Those pop culture icons are strongly evident in his work, along with easily recognizable comic book and sci-fi elements.
Ellsbury believes this is the best work the two have done, and she looks forward to this weekend's opening.
"I'm really pleased to have them in our gallery," she said. "It's an honor to have their work here. It's interesting and exciting, and I'd love it if people in Farmington would come and check them out."
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