ArtBeat – Reliquary

ArtBeat/October 2022

By Ed Goldman

It’s tempting to say that “Reliquary,” the new show at Archival Gallery, is to die for, but we’ll resist. (Too late!)

Featuring an all-star cast of regional artists, the show—which runs through October 28, with a Second Saturday reception on October 8 from 5-8 p.m.—commemorates the paraphernalia of death, while remaining a slyly life-confirming exhibit, not unlike the masks of “Día de La Muerta” (Day of the Dead) artwork.

If the word “reliquary” isn’t one you frequently use or hear at cocktail parties, rock concerts or at the dinner table, it’s just a relics container. For extra credit, memorize and use these fun words in a sentence: “fereter” (a portable reliquary, and “feretory”(the chapel in which you keep your fereter).

Top Hat, Suzanne Adan

Longtime celebrated artists—such as Suzanne Adan (who contributes “Top Hat”) and her husband Michael Stevens (“Dodo”), as well as Eric Wyss (“Urn for Masses of Ashes IV”), Maureen Hood, Al Farrow, Corey Okada, and Sean Royal—are joined by fellow creators Shenny Cruces, Erin Martinelli, and DL Thomas. Some of the artists have multiple pieces in the show.

Up-and-coming sculptor Lindsey M. Dillon, daughter of beloved local children’s performer and arts educator Francie Dillon, is represented with her piece, “Animarum.” Dillon first showed her work at Blue Line Arts in Roseville

Archival’s own Athena Alber has a few contributions in the show, including “Bird Skull Stitchery” and “Steve (rabbit).”

From ceramics to oil, acrylics to smashed glass, “Reliquary” also presents might call an art-media blitz, considering the wide array of materials used by the artists (sometimes, all at once). 

What I find of special note in this show is seeing works by the couple Stevens and Adan in the same show, a somewhat rare occurrence and reason enough to drop by Archival (at 3223 Folsom Boulevard; you can also sample the show at 

Both artists’ work display skill and seriousness of purpose but also humor (if sometimes on the dark side). 

Stevens’s work is in a number of public collections, such as the di Rosa Preserve, Oakland Museum, Crocker Museum, and the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. He holds a bachelor’s degree in painting and a master’s in sculpture, and has shown at the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, the Oakland Museum and frequently at the Braunstein Quay Gallery in San Francisco.

Both Adan and her husband earned their degrees at Sacramento State, as the former California State University Sacramento inexplicably began rebranding itself a few years ago. Adan, like Stevens, has enjoyed a number of solo shows; her work has been exhibited at Betsy Rosenfield in Chicago, John Berggruen in San Francisco, and several times at Michael Himovitz here in Sacramento, as well as group exhibits at Braunstein Quay in San Francisco, Jan Baum in Los Angeles, and the Laguna Beach Museum of Art, among many other venues.

For anyone who thinks about life and death matters (spoiler alert: This includes everyone), “Reliquary” offers some eloquent and elegant commentary on the topic. I’m simply dying to go back.

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