“Mother Night: The Goddess in Winter” (December 17, 2016-February 18, 2017), Leaping Laughter Lodge, Minneapolis, MN.
This winter, the MCPA will honor the Divine Feminine in Her many forms, through a sacred fusion of art, theatre and song, through Yuletide and beyond.
Mother Night (“Modranicht”), the first of the twelve nights of Yule, marks the time between the last of the old year and the year to come, a “non-year” time when the veil between the worlds grows thin and passable. The tradition of “Mother Night” venerates all ancestral Mothers (in Norse, the dísir-– “the goddesses” or “the ladies”). The power of the Mothers renews the Sun in the darkest time of year.
“Mother Night: the Goddess in Winter” weaves the themes of myth, Goddess reverence, and creative renewal in the winter season, with an invitation to our audience to celebrate and connect with their matriarchal lineage.
“Let this be a time for gratitude for the talents received and a time to gift back that which haunts you from the grave. Meditate on this divine connection and heal it through love. Our Ancestry is the shadow that follows us throughout our lives.” (MCPA artist Rmay Rivard)
The Mother Night closing event, lead by Dayna Jean Wolter, was an Immersive Sonic Ritual Performance by the Idisi, an innovative women’s chorus that creates sacred vibrational space imbued with powerful Goddess energy. The name “Idisi” is cognate with the Dísir, the matrix of female spirits, ancestors, guides and goddesses who form the root and basis of “Mother Night/ Modranicht”.
From our Curatorial Statement:
“The future has an ancient heart”— Carlo Levi
“Modern Pagans/Ancient Realms presents a view of an ongoing revival of religions of pre-modern Europe, adapted to a 21st-century, urban Midwest environment.
Contemporary Paganism embraces a range of religious, spiritual and magical traditions “self-consciously inspired” by pre-monotheistic belief systems and ancestral connections. This exhibition presents multiple expressions in various media which explore Midwestern Pagans’ connections with this living spiritual culture, examining a spectrum of responses to the challenges of a polytheistic present, using insights from the realms of the pagan past.
Recovering and re-sourcing ancient ideas and folkways to provide alternative visions for the future, parallels movements that preserve ancient heirloom seeds in order to ensure that humans can continue to bring forth a genetically diverse harvest….
The past is perpetually reinvented in the present– the contemporary Pagan narrative presents an alternate view of literary, spiritual and personal traditions as an act of engagement with ancient memories. In moving away from a dominant culture’s attitude of unchallenged exploitation of Nature, modern Pagans are re-creating a new kind of narrative that seeks to bring them into closer relationship with the natural world and with ancestors, of the bloodlines, and of the heart. Ancestral voices, like heirloom seeds, must be preserved.”
Ellie Bryan, Ali Beyer (Artemis Namaste), Jack Green, Helga Hedgewalker, Tony Koch, Mary Rivard, Paul B. Rucker, Roger Williamson
Opening Night featured:
Closing Night featured:
A Lughnasad (First Harvest) Ritual open to the general public.
In 2014, I helped to create the Minneapolis Collective of Pagan Artists (MCPA), which debuted with “Doorways to the Underworld” at Stevens Square Center for the Arts. (Links to writeups can be found on my “Selected Publications and Press” page under “2014”. See photos at Exhibition and/or Event links.)
From our press packet:
“This group of artists works in a variety of mediums and styles but share a spiritual philosophy. Pagans believe in many Gods and Goddesses, have a reverence for nature, and consider this time of year to be sacred for remembering loved ones who have passed away.
In this exhibit Halloween is explored through the eyes of those who experience the season as a profound time to commune with the ancestors and the spirit world. For these artists the work is an extension of their spirituality, which allows a glimpse into what is often an unseen tradition.”
Ellie Bryan, Ali Beyer (Artemis Namaste), Anne Marie Forrester (Helga Hedgewalker), Mary Rivard, Paul B. Rucker, Roger Williamson
“Opening of the Doors” (Opening Night) featured:
Live Music by Comets Ov Cupid
Dance Presentation by Alana Mari
“Closing of the Doors” (Closing Night) featured:
Live Music by Crow Call
Though I had come up with the idea of an art show exploring the idea of “erotic angels” when I was still living in New Orleans, it wasn’t until I’d moved back to Minneapolis a few years later that I had the opportunity to stage it.
I called myself a “Thematic Director” for this show, which involved acting as a curator, director, and public relations liaison: the concept, the majority of artists involved, and the promotion of this event were all my responsibility. People found the idea of angels as erotic to be outrageous… but in a good way:
“For most people, the concept of being touched by an angel means having a blessing bestowed. Angels are associated with chastity. But local artist Paul Rucker, instigator of Erotic Angels,… recognizes that the notion of angels as erotic beings can be provocative, but points out that the concept is not new. ‘Thousands of years ago, in pre-Christian traditions, even in the Bible, there is mention of heavenly messengers who walk the earth and have all kinds of intercourse with humans.'” (Michael Davis: “Touched by an Angel: Artists Explore Angelic Eroticism”, LAVENDER Magazine, March 5, 2004, Minneapolis- St. Paul, MN)
Several wonderful people jumped on board to help with contacts, security, media, etc., and nine artists in all dazzled the crowd with brilliant and evocative paintings, sculpture, and photography. We kept our guests delighted all evening: complimentary massage, tarot readings, hors d’oeuvres, wine, poetry reading, dance and a special performance by Venus of ALL THE PRETTY HORSES “sprinkled the event with delicious variety.” Choosing to err on the side of spectacle, to immerse people more fully in the concept of “Erotic Angels,” we encouraged our attendees to come in costume, and they sure did– 300-400 people showed up, and more than 3/4 had dressed up!
We saw an enormous range of angel wings, from white, to black and red, to wings upside-down, and made of feather-dusters! ”Erotic” ran the gamut from slinky Goth leathercreatures to angelic Catholic schoolgirls. One guest came with a burning pierced heart painted on her chest, while nearby models sashayed along in varying stages of elegant undress. Prom couples from a white-on-white heaven rubbed shoulders with sculpted adonises and pneumatic babes. The “Erotic Angels” theme provided an exciting occasion for all to go all out in “an eruption of primitive splendor!” as one attendee put it.
And that included me. For this opening night, I created my “Painted Angel” persona. Every aspect of my costume had been prepared for months ahead of time– the leather jacket hand-painted to look like an energetic force of nature, the wings also painted with iridescent rainbow hues, the headdress flown together from black stretch velvet, peacock feathers, gilded flowers, and an eviscerated bellydance belt. and with my face and hands painted by myself– ribbons of pure jewel color over a surface of seamless black. Like Huichol yarn paintings, I remember thinking, like an ayahuasca vision.
“The grand array of costumes was topped off by Paul Rucker. I saw what looked like a set of eyes peering through a group of parrots and peacocks on densely foliated branches with blooms of the most vibrantly colored exotic flowers in the world. The fascination of this sight was like discovering a never-before-seen mythological species. Like a multi-colored hallucination, Paul emerged, as if stepping out of one of his paintings.”
2021 (March) “The Third Offering: Journeys”, virtual exhibition at Paganicon conference online, Plymouth, MN.
2020-21 (November-January) “Foot in the Door”, virtual exhibition, Minneapolis, MN. (Minneapolis Institute of Arts)
2020 (October) “Gods and Monsters 2020”, virtual exhibition, Minneapolis, MN. (Otherworldly Arts Collective)
2020 (August) “The Unicorn Art Show 2020”, virtual exhibition, Minneapolis, MN. (Otherworldly Arts Collective)
2020 (February) “Safeword: An Erotic Art Show”, exhibition at Jackson Flats Studios, Minneapolis, MN. (Otherworldly Arts Collective)
2019 (October) “Gods and Monsters 2019”, exhibition at Jackson Flats Studios, Minneapolis, MN. (Otherworldly Arts Collective)
2019 (August- September) Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition, St. Paul, MN. (MN State Fair)
2019 (April) “The Unicorn Art Show 2019”, exhibition at Jackson Flats Studios, Minneapolis, MN. (won “Honorable Mention”) (Otherworldly Arts Collective)
2019 (March) “The Third Offering: The Sacred Grove”, annual exhibition at Paganicon conference, Plymouth, MN. (won “People’s Choice” award)
2019 (March) “Huldufolk : The Hidden People”, exhibition at Jackson Flats Studios, Minneapolis, MN. (Mrakmur Studios)
2017 (March) “The Third Offering: Through the Looking Glass: Journey to the Underworld”, annual exhibition at Paganicon conference, St. Louis Park, MN. (won “People’s Choice” award)
2016 (March) “The Third Offering: Sacred Traditions”, annual exhibition at Paganicon conference, St. Louis Park, MN. (won “Best Expression of Theme” award)
2015 (June) “Something Under the Sun”, Walker Community United Methodist Church, Minneapolis, MN. (Minneapolis Collective of Pagan Artists (MPCA))
2015 (March) “The Third Offering: Primal Mysteries”, annual exhibition at Paganicon conference, St. Louis Park, MN. (won “Guest of Honor’s Choice” award)
2014 (November) – 2015 (January) “The True Self”, Life Force Arts Center, Chicago, IL.
2014 (October-November) “The Tribe and the Sovereign”, Life Force Arts Center, Chicago, IL.
2014 (March)“The Third Offering: Elemental Enchantment”, annual exhibition at Paganicon conference, St. Louis Park, MN. (won “People’s Choice” award and “Guest of Honor’s Choice” award)
2014 (February) “Transcendental Vibrations”, The Abstracted Gallery, Minneapolis, MN.
2013 (March) “The Third Offering”, annual exhibition at Paganicon conference, St. Louis Park, MN.
2012 (September) – 2013 (January) “Ancestors”, Life Force Arts Center, Chicago, IL.
2012 (April-June) “Bridge to Eden: The Green World as Artist”, Life Force Arts Center, Chicago, IL.
2012 (March) “Eye of the Day, Wheel of the Year”, Paganicon conference, St. Louis Park, MN. (Two person show with Helga Hedgewalker)
2005-2007 Ongoing exhibition with various other artists at Goddess Gallery Gardens, Portland, OR.
2004 (January) “Inspired Journeys: Artifacts from Imagined Lands”, Vision Management Group Studio, Minneapolis, MN. (Two person show with Lucy Carlson)
2003 (July-August) “The Visible Fringe”, Calhoun Square,AZ Gallery, In the Heart of the Beast Theater, Minneapolis, MN.
2003 (May-July) “Elements”, Artco Gallery, Minneapolis, MN.
2002 (October-December) “Enchantments”, Awakenings Two, Stillwater, MN. (Also curator.)
2002 (August) “Elements: Life/Change and You– The Men’s Expo”. Crowne Plaza Northstar Hotel, Minneapolis, MN.
2000 (October-November). “Dia de los Muertos”. Gallery Gorgon, New Orleans, LA.
“Local painter Paul B. Rucker might best be described as a contemporary Baroque mystic. But you can ask him yourself at tonight’s gala opening, which includes a performance by spoken-word/jazz outfit Ancestor Energy.” (notice from Lavender Magazine, February 7, 2004)
The Lucinda Lounge was a large cabaret/lounge area a half-level down at the back of the Eat Street Cafe on Nicollet Avenue. This was a great venue with plenty of room in which to exhibit artwork, including my 8 1/2′ long unstretched canvas paintings, and also to showcase performance. By this time I had been experimenting for a few more years (since my solo shows in New Orleans and Alabama) with artworks more “disturbing” or “mysterious” than work of previous years. The juxtaposition of these newer works with older works more iconic and serene seemed to suggest the notion of “grace and struggle,” hence the title.
My work was on display for the month of February, but on opening night guests were treated to an energizing and uplifting performance of spoken word/poetry by Louis Alemayehu mixed with jazz fusion sounds by the ensemble Ancestor Energy. Many of the attendants were local Pagans who had come in from celebrating an Imbolc ritual earlier in the evening. The overall feeling was festive but cozy.
Julie Madden, the Visual Arts Director at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, had spotted my art on exhibition at Esoterica in New Orleans and invited me by mail to exhibit at Ferguson Center Gallery. At the time, I had a car just large enough to fit everything that I brought for the show, since several pieces on display were on unstretched canvas that could be rolled up.
This show was intended to be a survey of works completed between 1997-2002, which had a strong consistency of approach and theme– they are all in fact, “personifications” of mythic and dream figures. From my proposal:
“The common thread that runs through all of the pieces submitted under this title and theme is the use of the human body to express abstract feelings and ideas… I wish to include line drawings, paintings on canvas, and paintings on unstretched canvas, all of which utilize archetypal figures, references to myth, dreamlike juxtapositions, and experimental use of color effects.
With this particular exhibit, I propose to show a general evolution in my technique and in my commitment to figurative work as a symbolism of ideas. How has the basic essence of my work changed, or stayed the same, through a gradual moving from iconic representations of cultural figures into more ambiguous and/or refined images that evoke mystery but not necessarily definition?
The audiences likely to be most interested in this presentation would be students and faculty of the University and its environs with a particular interest in folklore, mythology, dreams, and the figure. My personal inspirations derive from theater, ritual, and dance as much as my interior sources, and consequently people involved in these areas are drawn to interact with my work as well.”
This show was well attended and received a writeup in the student paper (The Crimson White), “Show Brings Color to Ferg Gallery” by Bryant Saxon. February 6, 2002
I debuted in New Orleans at Gallery Gorgon, just up the road from where I lived on Magazine Street. I had only three months to finish a great deal of work for this show, but it was entirely worth it.
Guests from as far away as the West Coast and Europe arrived to participate in a unique look at the mythic male image, invited to come “dressed or not” as their favorite god or man. I presented a version of my “Blue Man”/”Blue God” concept for this first time at this show; we also saw two interpretations of Krishna and a man dressed only in a figleaf (Adam). Conveniently, a woman dressed as Eve also showed up at this gallery with her apple. Completing the mythic picture, a patron of mine named Lilith, who had flown in from Toronto especially for this event, gave tarot readings near the window overlooking “Gallery Row” on Magazine Street.
Artists, models, fashionistas, art patrons, street characters, and assorted members of the New Orleans demimonde migrated from the French Quarter, the Garden District, and St. Charles Avenue to enhance and contribute to the atmosphere, and the libations flowed freely as the sounds of jazz wafted faint and far away on the deepening night. (Just another night in the Lower Garden District, declared in 1998 by The Utne Reader to be “The Number-One Hippest Neighborhood in the Country.”)
The June 30, 2000 issue of the New Orleans Times-Picayune Lagniappe carried a review (“Picturing the Unimaginable”) by art critic Doug MacCash: “Paul B. Rucker is a remarkably skilled young painter. He has great command of the human anatomy, a terrific sense of line, no fear of strong color and a wonderful knack for creating glowing areas of light in his canvases… displaying classical figurative technique combined with pyrotechnic color.”