“Good food and fine art” is the philosophy at Utopia Restaurant in the East Village.

Utopia’s current fine art show is “Tree Portraits” by Long Beach native Shelley Rugg. Currently located in Marin County, Rugg studied drawing and painting at Cal State Long Beach and worked for many years with differently-abled artists, supporting their processes in visual and performing arts.

When asked about the theme of her current show, Rugg responded, “as a transplant from the city to the country, I began to ask myself what was capturing my attention. I discovered it was trees. As I began marking the flow of lines that are the tree branches, I would find myself lost in a Zen activity of seeing.

“When birds appear in the tree branches, we can recognize the tree as a home. It reminds us about the interdependence of all living things, including ourselves.”

This dynamic is seen in “Lookout Crows,” a 2019 acrylic on cradled wood panel, one of the larger pieces in the show. With two crows in the branches of a distant tree, framed by other branches in the foreground, we can see how the birds relate to the tree branches, the interdependence of objects in nature. Rugg’s selections show well in Utopia’s wood-accented, gallery-style interior space flowing into exterior spaces framed with live, growing trees.

Tree Portraits runs through Aug. 10 at Utopia Restaurant, with a closing reception on from 4 to 6 p.m. Aug. 10 (also the 2nd Saturday Artwalk in the East Village Arts District). Utopia is open from 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday–Thursday, to 10 p.m. Saturday and closed Sunday. Call for reservations. Paid parking available.

Utopia is at 445 E. First St., 562-432-6888, www.utopiarestarant.net

To contact the artist, email shelley@shelleyrugg.com or go to www.shelleyrugg.com.

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