Healthy Skepticism, Colin Dabkowski, October 10, 2008

“Bruce Adams’ “Rational Impulse” exhibition runs through Dec. 31 in the Center for Inquiry in Amherst.

The male figures in painter Bruce Adams’ “Divine Beauty” series, based on scantily clad magazine models, are enclosed in gold-painted frames that evoke the stations of the cross that can be seen in many Catholic churches. The word sacrilegious comes to mind. But Adams, whose long career in the Western New York art world has encompassed a wide variety of painting styles, isn’t too concerned about ruffling any Catholic feathers. In fact, his latest exhibition of work is centered around the painter’s identification with secular humanism, an ideological worldview that conflates religion with superstition and eschews them both in favor of healthy skepticism. It’s appropriate, then, that Adams’ new show, “Rational Impulse,” will take place at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, the world-renowned secular humanist think tank and unlikely art space that has been seeing a marked increase in high-profile art exhibitions in the last year or so. Adams, in his artist statement, noted that he came early in life to possess “a keen awareness of the susceptibility of humans to trickery and self-deception.” And that sense, of constant questioning and refusal to be duped, is what characterizes many of his artistic endeavors. The show, which opened Thursday, runs through Dec. 31 at the CFA (1310 Sweet Home Road, Amherst). For more information, call 636-4869, Ext. 409, or visit www.centerforinquiry.net . — Colin Dabkowski