Arts » Visual Art

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

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Is he not man? Mark Mothersbaughs Visual Art.
  • Is he not man? Mark Mothersbaughs Visual Art.
NEW

Pentimenti -- Art can divide, but it can unify too. So it's easy to see why one-time Clevelanders Misha and Amy Kligman, the artists featured in this intelligently conceived exhibit, are married. While stylistically they're as individual as two painters can be, their work seems nonetheless bonded by theme. Amy powerfully distills painful memories with "Comforts of Home," a simple picture of a boy tied to a house. The artist's trademark naive, two-dimensional style contrasts with the complexity of the statement. Misha captures the sense of being two people simultaneously in "The Split," a self-portrait of Rembrandt-like subtlety showing a faceless figure in the shadows next to his heavenly, contented, well-lit counterpart. But the bond shines brightest through Misha's "Landscape With Cages" and Amy's "The Secret." In the former, a dramatically foggy vista in white acrylic and graphite, several empty, open birdcages float in an arctic sea. In the latter, a little girl and boy whisper messages in a forest while the boy's secret lies at his feet: a dead bird, fallen from the cage he's holding. Fascinatingly, the paintings use the same symbol to evoke presumably traumatic events, but the specific meanings behind them are unique and personal. Only a married couple could have produced a pair so different, yet so deeply linked. Until October 12 at Wooltex Gallery, 1900 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, 216-241-4069, www.thewooltexgallery.com. -- Zachary Lewis

ONGOING

Post Card Diaries: The Visual Art of Mark Mothersbaugh -- Most artists are forever engaged in the ancient tug-of-war between style and substance. Not Mark Mothersbaugh. In his visual art, the Akron-born Devo singer lets style win every time. Only rarely in this traveling show of prints -- which incorporate elements from the postcards Mothersbaugh maniacally collects -- does he make serious statements or aesthetic experiments. But the images have style -- namely that dusty, yellowed look of outdated textbooks. The medium too is arresting: thick, cottony paper, drawn over with pencil and a watercolor-like ink that dries in layers. And whatever Mothersbaugh lacks in depth, he makes up for in entertainment value. Consider "Crying Time at Happy Hour," in which a Tin-Man character holding a glass frowns bitterly inside a postcard framed by the word "Poison." Pure random hilarity. "Bring 'Em in Like This, Drive 'Em Home Like This," meanwhile, is a collection of innocent postcards rendered raunchy by explicitly sexual doodling. But while the bulk of the work is substance-free, Mothersbaugh is best in works like "Weapon of No Destruction," a humorous critique of the Iraq debacle. In this faded, drab-hued scene, a vaguely Asian man looks over a bizarre contraption -- a cross between a stock-ticker and a dialysis machine? -- that's obviously nothing of concern. Yet the man seems genuinely surprised and confused, even a little disappointed, like a president who imagined it a cause for war. Until September 22 at Asterisk Gallery, 2393 Professor Avenue, Cleveland, 330-304-8528, www.asteriskgallery.com. -- Lewis

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