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Mark Dutcher: Gone at Santa Monica Museum of Art
Mark Dutcher, The Knockout, 2006, Pencil, wax, oil on paper mounted on panel
38 1/2 x 38 1/2 inches, Courtesy the artist and SolwayJones, Los Angeles. Photography: Robert Wedemeyer.

SANTA MONICA, CA.- The Santa Monica Museum of Art presents Project Room II: Mark Dutcher: Gone, on view through November 25, 2006. How do we memorialize a person, a relationship, an era? What is left behind after we are gone? Mark Dutcher's paintings grapple with these questions related to the universal human issues of loss and death. His exploration is articulated through an intricate visual vocabulary developed in his work over many years.

Gone reflects Dutcher's response to Julia Morgan's Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, California. This columbarium, a public display and storage structure for cremation ashes, holds niches filled with urns, as well as flowers and numerous idiosyncratic personal keepsakes to memorialize the dead. Like the columbarium itself, Dutcher's paintings are compartmentalized. Each cubicle is richly decorated with objects that refer to the passage of time and inspire individual and communal narrative—vases, hour glasses, candles, floral tributes, rag rugs, trophies, beer bottles, locks, and keys. Dutcher’s scenes are inhabited by crudely rendered figures painted in a thick and colorful impasto. Sometimes clearly represented and sometimes abstracted to the brink of recognition, his objects take on a charged iconic significance—mandala-like braided rag rugs, pinwheel collaged elements, and stacked hour glass forms all suggest movement that become animated portals to another world. At once celebratory and somber, Dutcher’s imagery blurs the line between quotidian still life and spiritual dreamscape.

This project includes a new site-specific work, The Martyrdom of the Philosopher, which was created especially for the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Los Angeles-based artist Mark Dutcher has exhibited widely in group and solo shows, most recently in the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, and at SolwayJones Gallery and The Office. His work has been covered in articles in the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, ArtScene,, Artweek, Artforum, Tema Celeste, and Details Magazine.

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