River Gallery explores figures and narrativesFormer Dead Horse Gallery proprietors Mindy Tousley and Kim Schoel assembled five women for River Gallery's March show, but not because it's Women's History Month. Rather, what unites the artists is the use of figure and narrative in their works. Tousley's collages, for example, combine tintype photography and pages from The Book of Knowledge children's encyclopedia to represent archetypal experiences like birth and aging; and Schoel's satiric jewelry traces the change from a reverent life to one of gross industrial consumerism. Donna Coleman's remarkable paintings evoke rich storybook illustrations, but tell their own stories, while Lisa Kenion's sculptures are powerful reflections of movement and emotion. Meantime, Michelle Hannon's sculptures, like Red Horse, left, capture imagined organisms at strange but graceful moments in their evolution. The show seeks a wide audience, and hopes, in a small way, to restore the place of figurative art. An opening reception will be held March 26 from 3 to 7 p.m. at 19046 Old Detroit Rd. in Rocky River. The show continues through April 23. For more info, call 440-331-8406 or go to rivergalleryarts.com. — Joseph Clark
Aperture Photograpy: Instant Revival. Nine midwestern shutterbugs showcase their work in Polaroid photography, celebrating an analog tradition in a digital age. Through April 9 at 2541 Scranton Rd. Call 216-574-8977 or go to aperturetremont.com.
Akron Art Museum: M.C. Escher: Impossible Realities. This crowd-pleasing show features more than 130 of the artist's impeccable works, including such instantly recognizable pieces as "Drawing Hands." The exhibition comes from the Herakleidon Museum in Greece, which houses one of the world's largest collections of Escher's work; Akron is one of only two U.S. venues to host it. Exhibition continues through May 29. Also: All-Star Jazz. Last year saw the passing of Herman Leonard, photography's chronicler of jazz. This show highlights his intimate style, which captured legends candidly during performances, recording sessions, and backstage BS-ing. Through July 10 at 1 South High St. Call 330-376-9185 or go to akronartmuseum.org.
(Art)ificial Gallery: The Vinyl Takeover. A collection of vinyl toys customized by local artists, this light-hearted show draws inspiration from cartoons, comics, and sci-fi camp. Through April 23 at 17020 Madison Ave. in Lakewood. Call 216-227-8440 or go to whatisartificial.com for more information.
The Bonfoey Gallery: All Over the Place. Artist Ken Nevadomi believes paintings should be fun, and he encourages viewers to formulate their own interpretations in an eclectic exhibit that includes abstracts, pastels, and animal portraits. Through April 23 at 1710 Euclid Ave. Call 216-621-0178 or visit bonfoey.com.
Cleveland Institute of Art Reinberger Galleries: The 65th Annual Student Independent Exhibition. A professionally juried show organized and curated entirely by students, this exhibition features more than 60 pieces of artwork drawn from each of the school's 19 majors, including paintings, sculpture, digital media, animation, and more. Through March 26 at 11141 East Blvd.; call 216-421-7407 or visit cia.edu.
Cleveland Museum of Art: The Glory of the Painted Page: Manuscript Illuminations from the Permanent Collection: Through April 17 at 11150 East Blvd. in University Circle; call 216-421-7340 or visit clevelandart.org.
Contessa Gallery: The Photography of David Drebin. An internationally known photog and frequent contributor to Conde Nast Traveler, Drebin creates stylish works that tread the line between art and fashion photography. Through April 10 at 24667 Cedar Rd., inside Legacy Village in Lyndhurst; 216-382-7800 or visit contessagallery.com.
Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery: Adaptability. No matter the medium, Detroit-based Lebanese artist Adnan Charara's work reflects on adaptation by creative repurposing of materials. Postmarked envelopes become the canvas for a pictured narrative, and found objects become humanized characters in fragmented stories. Through May 14 at 1305 West 80th Street. For more information, call 216-631-6719 or go to kennethpaullesko.com.
Kokoon Arts: Regional Watercolors: This large exhibition aims at raising consciousness of Cleveland's 90-year history of leadership in watercolor paintings, including works from masters of the 1920's "Cleveland School" to the present day. Through May 14 at 1305 West 80th St. in the 78th Street Studios. Call 216-832-8212 or visit kokoonarts.com.
Legation, a Gallery: Fluid Forms & Fleshy Coats. Showcasing the drawings and sculptures of six female artists, this exhibition converges on the broad theme of tension between immortal ideals and decaying realities. Through April 8 at 1300 D West 78th Street in the 78th Street Studios. Call 216-650-4201 or go to legationagallery.com.
Museum of Contemporary Art: Blind Landscape. Internationally known for her tall monuments of graphite, stainless steel, glass, and plastic, sculptor Teresita Fernandez incorporates light, shadow, and reflection into her large-scale pieces, often exploring the relationship between nature and perception in the process. Through May 8. Also: Letter on the Blind, for the Use of Those Who See. This 2007 film by Javier Téllez documents the reactions of six blind people as they touch and respond to a live elephant. Also: Passive Voices. Artist Lorri Ott transforms synthetic and natural materials into poignant, evocative subjects, giving each work a unique yet ambiguous voice that supplants her own. At 8501 Carnegie Ave. Call 216-421-8671 or go to mocacleveland.org.
Sculpture Center:Reluctant Redemption. Daniel McDonald illustrates the artist's spiritual journey through biblical scenes retold in bronze, wire, and foam. Also No Matter How Hard I Yell: Qian Li uses sculpture, found objects, and audiovisual presentations to recreate the recurring dreams from her harrowing Chinese childhood. Through April 16 at 1834 East 123rd St. Call 216-229-6527 or visit sculpturecenter.org.
Spaces: Manic Growth. Akron artist Elizabeth Dunfee explores the constant introduction of synthetic chemicals into our environment in this SPACElab installation. Also: Machine Project, a loose confederacy of L.A.-based artists known for their off-kilter art experiences. Here, their exhibition is "Couchbleacher Stadium," where the artists and their audience explore journeys into psychic mediumship and more. Both through April 1 at 2220 Superior Viaduct. Call 216-621-2314 or go to spacesgallery.org.
Tregoning & Company: Cleveland School Masterworks: Recent Acquisitions. Featuring works by Henry Keller, Carl Gaertner, Abel Warshawsky, and other artists of the Cleveland School. Also: Cincinnati painter Frank Herrmann's works based on the Asmat culture of New Guinea. Through March 31 at 1300 West 78th St. Call 216-281-8626 or go to tregoningandco.com.
Wall Eye Gallery: Intuitive Visions: This show presents never-before-seen works from Northeast Ohio outsider artists Michelangelo Lovelace, Carlos Cahuas, and others. Their materials include acrylics and found objects, and their themes range from the mundane to the ethereal. Through April 9 at 5304 Detroit Ave Cleveland. Call 440-320-639 or go to walleyegallery.com.
Waterloo 7 Gallery: Featuring works by Hy Snell, Lisa Eastman, John Davis, and 30 others. Through April 15 at 35005 Chardon Rd., Willoughby Hills. Visit schmidtsculpture.com or call 440-946-0333.
William Busta Gallery: Crossings. Painter Andrea Joki's simple patterns of abstract forms and colorful clusters seem to vie for attention like an eager crowd. Through April 30. Also: Geometry of the Clouds. Georgia Tech Professor of Architecture Mark Cottle's exhibition transcribes a world history of geometry, translating into paint and ink the grammar of Egyptian and Greek architecture, the forms of Renaissance stonework, and the interpretations of Modernist minimalism. Through April 23 at 2731 Prospect Ave. Call 216-298-9071 or visit williambustagallery.com.
Willoughby Hills Community Center Gallery: Work by nature photographer Wayne Mazorow, whose work is featured in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park calendar.At 35400 Chardon Rd. in Willoughby Hills. Call 440-918-8730 or go to willoughbyhillsgallery.org.
Zygote Press: 4U. Biennial gathering of faculty and students from the printmaking departments of four colleges, including the University of Akron, Cleveland Institute of Art, Kent State University, and the University of Toledo. Through April 9 at 1410 East 30th St. Call 216-621-2900 or visit zygotepress.com.
Kent State University Museum: Beyond Fashion: Fiber and Fashion Art by Vincent Quevedo. Culled from 20 years of past collections, Quevedo's works range from sculptural clothing to quilted wall art. Through February 2012 at 515 Hilltop Dr. on the K.S.U. campus; call 330-672-3450.