“The Hominy Triplets” by artist Peter Zokosky. Image courtesy of the Arts Council for Long Beach.

It can be a strange and wondrous feeling to connect with a painting, especially when what you’re looking at is a life-like trio of wooden dummies or a woman balancing a ship on her foot.

Such is the off-putting imagery of two highly regarded contemporary artists known for their surreal subject matter, Peter Zokosky and Cynthia K. Evans, who explore the universal absurdity of what it means to be human through their own concerns and acute observations.

Zokosky and Evans hope you’ll be moved by their artworks, which you can see on Saturday during the opening reception of Murky Realms at The Collaborative gallery in Downtown. It’s one of an ongoing series of exhibitions curated from the Arts Council for Long Beach’s artist registry.

“Ascension” by Peter Zokosky. Image courtesy of the Arts Council for Long Beach.

On view will be what Zokosky described as a curious sampling of his works created over the last several years, that “get close to the heart of my ongoing concerns.”

“I’m moved by strange beauty, and compelling subjects that are difficult to pin down,” Zokosky said. “I like art that can shift, depending on the attitude of the viewer. The same painting can seem disturbing, amusing, lovely, and perplexing, depending on how you look at it.”

Currently chair of Laguna College of Art + Design’s MFA drawing and painting programs, Zokosky’s work has been exhibited throughout Los Angeles and internationally, as well as where he lives and works in Long Beach.

Selected from Evans’ body of work is a mix of new and older paintings. Her latest pieces include narratives inspired by different couples she knows and how they “manage their feelings and deal with the world and each other.”

“Mermaid” by artist Cynthia K. Evans. Image courtesy of the Arts Council for Long Beach.

“My hope is, that even though the paintings start out from a very specific place, their effect will be more universal,” Evans said. “At best the viewer will have an emotional connection or somehow be moved by the image.”

Also on display will be props from both artists’ studios, perhaps to offer viewers a chance to consider the process of how their paintings were made.

Born in New York and a graduate of Claremont Graduate University, Evans has been painting small-scale mixed-media works for more than two decades and has exhibited throughout the country and internationally.

Both artists have shown at the Long Beach Museum of Art and University Art Museum and display a technical prowess honed over years of experience.

Murky Realms, which shows the commonalities between Zokosky’s and Evans’ imaginative art, was curated by Brian Trimble and Terry Braunstein, members of the arts council’s CAP Committee and longtime participants of Long Beach’s visual arts community.

“What we are doing at The Collaborative is creating a culture of quality,” said Griselda Suarez, executive director for the arts council. “This effort attracted Evans and Zokosky to the space. I really see galleries like LBMAx, Flatline, and Kennedy Grace transforming how we curate and changing the reputation of gallery art in Long Beach.”

The opening reception for Murky Realms takes place on Saturday at The Collaborative from 6 to 9 p.m. The exhibition will be on view through Dec. 21. For more information, visit the event page here.

The Collaborative is located at 421 W. Broadway.

Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].