By day Rick Araluce is the Lead Scenic Artist for the Seattle Opera. So he knows how to tell a story and play with scale and perspective. By night he constructs eerie miniature environments for his own pleasure. A collection of his impossibly small, self-contained worlds is on view at the Bellevue Arts Museum (August 16, 2013- Feburary 2, 2014), including the mini-masterwork, The Longest Hours (2011). It’s a two-foot tall whitewashed wooden shed. Inside the worn walls are lined with identical beat-up scratched doors. Dimly lit with bare light bulbs hanging from the ceiling, the five-foot-long hallway brings to mind an abandoned asylum where lots of ostensible choices all lead to the same destination. Ominous. Curious. Grim. Great. Joseph Cornell flying over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
When not at the opera or in his art studio Araluce is either playing his ukulele (he’s in a group called the Ukedelics) or working on one of his 1960s muscle cars. Born and raised in Encino, California, as a kid he wanted to be a “Hollywood special effects wizard” and/or the “next great Surrealist Painter.” He graduated from Orange Coast Community College and, as he says, received his PhD in Hard Knocks. In 2008, Araluce won a Pollock-Krasner Grant and soon after had his work (The Longest Hours) shown for the first time in a New York museum, in the 2011 exhibition Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities at the Museum of Arts & Design.