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&gallery’s first art exhibit of the year highlights artist’s journey

Artist Ben Brockman, also known as The Sacred Trust, standing with &gallery curator Cynthia Naugle in front of a piece being showcased until Feb. 5. Courtesy of Manic Image.

&gallery had its first art show of the year, a solo exhibition with Ben Brockman, a.k.a The Sacred Trust. “The Good News” art exhibit is named after a piece Brockman created as part of last year’s Bad Religion show.

Brockman was once a resident of Minneapolis but relocated to Tucson. In 2014, he worked on becoming sober and has since used spirituality and art as an outlet. His exhibition focuses on spirituality and healing.

“It’s awesome, it’s a rare opportunity and it’s hard to swing. Fortunately, I’m somebody who’s always making lots and lots of work and I’ve been able to establish a relationship with Cynthia [Naugle, owner of &gallery] and the gallery. I’ve been involved in some of their shows, and it’s just worked out great. That relationship kind of bore this fruit from that,” Brockman said.

Brockman is inspired by finding solutions to social problems, and in the last few years, it’s been around religion. The religious inspiration is mostly based on the tension and polarization of fundamentalism. Brockman likes representing these ideas with the hope someone can come along and believe it can work for them as well.

Many of Brockman’s pieces are accompanied by a quote or piece of poetry alongside his statement to further define the artwork. Each one has different meanings, from quarantine pieces to affirmations.

“Each one of them pulls from a different concept, and there’s a lot of philosophical, psychological and spiritual concepts that are kind of pulled from ancient belief systems to modern ones. They’re all kind of dealing with the concept of affirmation and what it means to need affirmation and receive affirmation,” Brockman said. “I started with one piece that was an affirmation about not really needing forgiveness by being necessary, belonging and perfect as you are, and that kind of was a foundation for all the rest of the work.”

Brockman is currently working on publishing a tarot deck with the major and minor arcana that he illustrated himself. A few are on display at the exhibition, and Brockman plans to continue doing art like the ones he has on display.

Ulli Hain was one of the spectators who came to see the exhibition. In her opinion, it is one of her favorite shows &gallery has done.

“I felt connected with the universe and all the different things in life. The landscapes are connected as well. I felt uplifted,” Hain said

Hain bought a little print of her favorite piece because something about it resounded with her. Hain resonates with the show itself, especially as she’s on her own spiritual journey.

“I had seen other stuff by Brockman before, so I was already going to come, but I saw it was going to be about spirituality, so I definitely had to come,” Hain said.

Cynthia Naugle is the owner of &gallery and a friend of Brockman. She talked about how in order to get a solo show, there are credentials she looks for, which include participating in group shows, having a large body of work, having a message that matches what &gallery stands for and the contributor having a following. Brockman met all of those requirements.

“The big thing he wanted to do was the affirmations. The affirmations are wonderful because it’s the &gallery way, where he uses spiritualism, religion, occult and dark themes. He uses all of that to give a message that could be received by anyone, and it all pertains to different things that make us all complex people,” Naugle said. “He’s someone who has dealt with addiction and mental illness, you know, surviving in our world. Those are all things that we resonate with, and I thought it was a perfect show to have to open up the new year.”

The past year was rough not only for Naugle but &gallery itself. She had to think about the possibility of closing the gallery, but hearing how artists like Brockman feel about their art being on display reminded Naugle how much she loves what she does.

Naugle has also decided to change her own structure when it comes to group shows, but be more exact with solo shows. It will be chaotic and less structured with group shows, but more intentional with solo shows.

“Solo exhibitions are great because it’s really cool seeing a full body of work and someone be so vulnerable and open about it. Plus bringing out this presentation, because the cool thing about art is we want to share it, and it’s cathartic, vulnerable, fun as hell and interesting. It’s really interesting seeing people receive the art that’s here, especially where it’s this kind of stuff where it is affirmation,s but also holds so many themes that are controversial and close to home, like with religion, spirituality, addiction and all of that,” Naugle said

Naugle is planning for big things in the new year, especially with her two-year anniversary of owning the gallery coming up. She also encourages people to continue supporting local businesses as well as &gallery. “The Good News” exhibit will be up until Feb. 5.

&gallery is located at 419 N. Fourth Ave., and the store hours are noon to 5 p.m. Sundays and Mondays, noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and the store is closed Tuesdays. &gallery art meetups will also start back up on Thursday, Jan. 18.

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