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Feb 12th
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Erotic Environment

AE_AbbieRabinowitz1A local artist’s work fits right in at Camouflage

Some art is made for gallery walls. It hangs unabashedly on vast expanses of white, unaffected by the emptiness of the space, as if it were designed to sit quietly in a row of other paintings. This is not the case with the erotic artwork of Abbie Rabinowitz.

Rabinowitz’s erotica belongs in the cozy comforts of someone’s home, hung over a couple’s bed, or, as she has recently discovered, on the walls of a sex shop: A selection of her erotic paintings, woodcarvings and thangkas recently found new life through exhibition at Camouflage, an adult sex store in Downtown Santa Cruz.

Erotica is one of Rabinowitz’s oldest and most developed styles. Inspired by Picasso’s erotic series, she began painting sexually charged pieces in her early twenties as a way to express her own experiences. Today, she still finds herself returning to eroticism to process her personal life, but also uses it to capture larger, universal realties of sexuality. “It’s a theme I go back to because it’s such a part of all of our lives,” she says. “It’s a basic, primal, emotional experience.”

In her 35 years of painting, Rabinowitz has grown an extensive resume of gallery exhibitions, but the shows have almost always featured her other, less steamy signature styles, like plein air landscapes, which she has been doing since she was a child growing up in rural Connecticut. In all those years, Rabinowitz rarely saw her erotica hung in public.

Even with Camouflage, she worried that some of the pieces were “too racy” and was dubious about including them. “But they wanted them and were really positive [about them],” she says of the storeowners. “Everything feels right in here. This is the kind of place my artwork should be hung, rather than on a gallery wall where it is kind of out of its element. [Here] it makes more sense and is more playful.”

AE_AbbieRabinowitz2Ambling through the store one November afternoon, Rabinowitz pauses at each piece to muse about its origins and significances. There is “Dancing Ganesha,” a fun, flowing depiction of the Hindu deity dancing in the nude, one of her many tributes to ancient Hindu and tantric art. There are also the more personal works, like a set of sex-on-the-couch paintings from when she was 23 and living in Paris with her Brazilian boyfriend, and “3 a.m.,” a rendering of two women, limbs entangled and entwined in a passionate kiss.

Through the tunnel (a rainbow of boas temporarily home to Rabinowitz’s “Cockeyed Susan”), past the pasties, massage oils and cock-shaped cupcake molds, we enter into the store’s 18 and up backroom where the more provocative of her art is hung. Most notable is “Bonobo Bliss,” a part of a series that captures the sexual escapades of the species known for casual sexual practices and a peaceful, loving society. The painting shows a pair of smiley chimps engaging in felatio (a part of the bonobo repertoire), and is appropriately placed in the middle of a large patchwork of dildos and vibrators. “Surrounded by these toys it gives [the piece] this habitat that works so well,” says Rabinowitz. “This art has found its environment.”

Both Camouflage and Rabinowitz are on a sex positive mission to promote the natural, beautiful and empowering qualities of sex and sexuality—for Rabinowitz, it’s by presenting it as sensual, primal, loving, spiritual and even humorous, but never graphic, distasteful or negative.

“There is so much negativity attached to our sexuality, and to me this,” she says, surveying her art and the store it has nested in, “this is beautiful.”

 


Abbie Rabinowitz’s work will be at Camouflage through Dec. 3. Visit abbierabinowitz.com.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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