Two new exhibits at ArtPlace in Fairfield takes a look at mythology and ideas perpetuated throughout history.

"The Minotaur is Loose in Fairfield" by Donald Axleroad of Stamford, and "A Wrinkle in Time" by Weston artist Binnie Birstein will be on display through Nov. 20, with a public reception on Saturday, Oct. 30 from 4 to 6 p.m. and "Artist Talks: Ideas and imagery" on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 4 p.m.

Axleroad said his fascination with mythology began in his youth.

"Half man, half beast, the Minotaur is the subject of a mythological tale of deceit, jealousy, brutality, bravery and ingenuity," Axleroad said. "Greek mythology reflects the full range of human emotions, and allows me to express the opposing forces of good and evil and the fear and hope that humanity is all about."

The artist said he sees a parallel between the triumphs and tragedies of the heroes of ancient myths as they struggle against the capriciousness of the gods, and the challenges of modern man, beset with war, vengeance and the realities of aging. Both have to cope with forces beyond their control.

Birstein's ambiguous, dream-like encaustic paintings and installation offer the viewer many interpretations.

"A Wrinkle in Time," Birstein said, is "a space warp or a wormhole -- a portal from one area of space to another that is possible through the bending of the structure of the space-time continuum."

Her encaustic paintings - layers of luminous translucent colors - are ambiguous, referring to the darkness in human nature and the evil of war and persecution; yet her joy and excitement in working the paint also hints at life's pleasures and rewards.

"These paintings provoke questions: menacing or protective, water or air, dead or sleeping, narrative or abstract?" she said. "There are many viewpoints and emotional responses and no right answers. I want the viewers to interpret the work from their own perspectives."

Birstein, an award-winning artist originally from New York City, organized a show of work in encaustic by members of New England Wax at the Fairfield Arts Council this year. Her awards include Best in Show at the Silvermine Guild's Art of the Northeast juried by Ann Temkin of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, now a curator at MoMA. Birstein teaches and lectures on her work at many venues including the National Encaustic Conference. At her studio in Weston, she also gives private and small group instruction.

Donald Axleroad has received awards from local, regional and national arts organizations including the Salmagundi Club and the National Arts Club of New York, the Audubon Artists of America and the Allied Artists of America. His work was also selected for a United Nations-sponsored traveling exhibit of 100 American printmakers. His woodcut "The Minotaur Escaping the Labyrinth" has won a half dozen awards in regional competitions. He is also the founder/director of ARI Artists Initiative of Stamford which teaches developmentally disabled adults to draw and paint.

ArtPlace, at 11 Unquowa Road in Fairfield, next to the Community Movie Theater, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

For more information, call (203) 292-8328 or go to www.artplace.org.