Arts » Visual Art

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.


Storage Space -- Memory is a well-scoured subject, the inspiration for countless books, films, and musical compositions. But never has it been examined from so many angles simultaneously. The eight artists in this thoughtful group exhibition address the way we create, frame, alter, repress, and recall memories -- and practically every viewpoint manages to affect. Louisiana-based Mark Grote's "Heartland OBJ" is perhaps the most poignant. A rack jammed with countless pairs of dingy work-gloves, it feels like a relic from some coal mine's locker room: Behind each pair is a story, a life lived. Fredrik Marsh, of Westerville, points ingeniously to the lingering power of physical spaces in a series of vivid photos of abandoned apartments. One in Dresden, Germany, feels particularly alive: It's the corner of a room with a deep, dark hole in the wall near an exhaust pipe, electrical socket, some wire, and cracked plaster. This corner probably housed clothes dryers and nothing more, but Marsh endows it with a potent sense of mystery. But the most breathtaking and relevant works here are the blurred and darkly tinted war photographs by Dayton's Benjamin Montague. Through the haze, we see soldiers patrolling, bombs exploding, a helicopter crashing. Surely, if one could put the repressed memories of Iraq war veterans on film, they'd look something like Montague's images. Until August 3 at SPACES Gallery, 2220 Superior Viaduct, Cleveland, 216-621-2314, -- Zachary Lewis


Exhibit: Cleveland -- Don't say art never did anything for you. Visit this neighborly little show at Wooltex, and you'll gain new respect for the power of a painting. The small exhibit includes 10 local artists, some of whom you may be familiar with. But that's only half of it. The rest of the show spills out onto Euclid Avenue and East Fourth Street -- where artists display their work in empty storefronts, exposing a passive public to their work and brightening up otherwise dreary spaces. The project just celebrated its first anniversary, so pardon the Wooltex component's relative slimness -- which nevertheless manages to cover a huge stylistic range. Michael Greenwald's magnificent untitled beachscape features a lake of luminous turquoise and dynamically dappled clouds. It's like a still from a time-lapse film. "Restrictions #4," by Damon Reaves, occupies another extreme: a black-and-gray drawing in acrylic and charcoal that serves up abstract energy in pure form. Stylistically, Patrick Haggerty's factory scene, "When the Whistle Blows," is somewhere in between, a well-crafted study in geometric formalism with touches of Ashcan. It's just the thing to adorn a city struggling with its industrial past. Through July 13 at the Wooltex Gallery, 1900 Superior Avenue, -- Lewis

Mirror Matter -- Stemming from the mind of Cleveland toy designer Olga Ziemska, this brilliant sculpture exhibition unifies art, literature, and nature. It reflects a profoundly artistic world where nature's patterns are the stuff of art and disciplines overlap. It's impossible to pinpoint where poetry ends and sculpture begins in "Octavio," the show's gem. Its wall of dangling letters spell out the poem "Sight and Touch" (by Mexican American literary giant Octavio Paz) in large, gray letters -- formed from crusty sodium crystals -- which hang in ceiling-high columns from a transparent line. Spinning slowly in place and catching the faintest air currents, they tend to mimic the text itself, physically resembling "light," "a living body," and "curtain." More beautifully, they compel viewers to read slowly and savor both the sight and sound of each word. But "Chiromancy Point" and "Akasha: A Collection of Accident and Circumstance" form the show's breathtaking and truly site-specific centerpiece. A large triangle made from countless mirror shards -- many of which contain an image of some organic or man-made pattern -- adorn the gallery's glass wall. The opposite wall features a paisley-print-shaped stream of glass pebbles, each of which also includes an image. Viewed from the proper perspective, the two pieces merge to form a massive three-dimensional landscape of wind blowing across a mountain. And to think it's all based on the tiniest of artistic atoms. Through August 19 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, 8501 Carnegie Avenue, 216-421-8671, -- Lewis

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