Arts » Visual Art

On View

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions

The glowing photographic prints of Garry Fabian Miller - can be seen at the Cleveland Museum of Art through - July 22.
  • The glowing photographic prints of Garry Fabian Miller can be seen at the Cleveland Museum of Art through July 22.
Aging in America, The Years Ahead -- Being old doesn't necessarily mean living on the fringes of society, as this multimedia show proves. Ed Kashi's black-and-white photographs demonstrate, for example, that the Marlboro Man has nothing on the 75-year-old cowboys competing at the National Senior Pro Rodeo. A leather-jacketed senior biker chick gives meaning to the slogan "Life after 60." But Kashi's large-scale images also depict the harsher realities of aging, including the loss of independence conveyed by the photo of a man bathing his ailing father. Similarly, images from the Senior Olympics are juxtaposed with others from a prison's geriatric ward. Kashi and reporter Julie Winokur also produced a documentary that explores contemporary aging, and many of the images, along with the voices of the subjects and Winokur's narration, can be seen in Healthspace's computer lab or online at In an age when youth is revered, it seems refreshing and necessary to shed light on such an important part of the population. Through June 11 at Healthspace, 8911 Euclid Ave., 216-231-5010. -- Nadia Michel

Beyond the Surface -- Nine local artists converge in this recently opened, airy, and elegant 2,800-square-foot space at the Galleria. The common thread is a special attention to surface, giving all the works a three-dimensional appeal. Tim Haas's found-object construction, "Meghan's Trip on Steel," shows a woman looking in at three vertically aligned metal stars screwed into the background. An antique-looking measuring tape at the bottom right corner suggests the woman's desire for success and the pressure she feels to measure up. Douglas Max Utter's tar-thickened paint on canvas is colorful yet muted. Matthew Dibble's Plexiglas series, featuring blue sheets of plastic on a styrofoam base, is the only sour note. Although made to resemble water, the material's simplicity and unpleasant aesthetics look out of place in an otherwise rich display. This show's strength is that while the images are powerful and defined, their ultimate interpretation is often left to the viewer. Through May 19 at Thrive -- An Artspace, 1301 E. 9th St., 216-479-0303. -- Michel

Curve -- Hair pomade on the walls may sound like a scene from Barbershop gone bad, but Kori Newkirk thinks it's a good idea. His effort here is noteworthy; the results are less so. Giant fingerprints, composed of spots of pomade, are painted directly onto white walls, the result of days of work for Newkirk and his team of assistants. Reminiscent of fingerprinting, the work alludes to crime and racism; the goo itself is a reference to African-American culture, where local hair salons often play an important social role. The issue of identity is at the forefront: There's nothing more unique than an individual's fingerprints. Newkirk's exploration of unconventional media gives new meaning to the phrase "The medium is the message." The downfall of that idea is that one must read the adjacent label to know the "paint" is actually hair product. And without knowing, the work takes on a sort of unidimensional aspect. After all, any common criminal -- or artist, for that matter -- can leave fingerprints on a wall. Through May 23 at MOCA, 8501 Carnegie Ave., 216-421-8671. -- Michel

Garry Fabian Miller Photographs -- Is it really a photograph if a camera is not involved? Surprisingly, yes. British photographer Garry Fabian Miller's dye-destruction prints rely on a photographic technique employed in the 19th century, before the camera was invented. In an antiquated procedure, Miller passes light through filters and cylinders of colored water onto prepared paper. The effect is fantastic. Minimal forms infused with glowing white light radiate from the paper, much as Mark Rothko's color-field forms radiated from their canvases in the 1950s and '60s. Although less warm than Rothko's paintings, the prints are captivating; the viewer is drawn in by the entrancing light, as if trying to see into the center of the sun. Through July 22 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7340. -- Tami Miller

Heads and Tales -- Though known for his illustration and design work, Michael Lotenero's new works on paper provide a glimpse into the more serious side of this Pennsylvania-based artist. Lotenero's expressive artworks -- with simple color palettes and tense lines -- exhibit a subdued, almost melancholy sentiment. There is strong emphasis on the human body. Several of the figures recede or diminish into fine lines, as if to question their own solidity and worth, creating a contemplative effect. Born in Cleveland, Lotenero studied at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where he continues to live. His artwork has been shown nationally, and his design work has included commissions from such big-name clients as Nintendo, IBM, and Panasonic. He also produces editorial illustrations, which have been featured in Speak and Raygun. Through May 14th at Bockrath Gallery, 2026 Murray Hill Rd., 216-721-5990. -- Miller

International Appeal: AAWR Members Exhibition -- Seventy local artists were asked to create works reflecting life in the U.S., suitable for display in an American embassy. Some followed the instructions to a T. Phyllis Fannin's "Homestyle" is an elaborate collage in the shape of the U.S., a charming homage to each state's claim to fame. (The Cleveland skyline fills Ohio.) Herb Ascherman's "Times Square. January 29th, 2004. Zero Degrees," a black-and-white photograph, is a somewhat clichéd representation of one of the U.S.'s most recognizable places, yet undeniably appropriate. "Flickering Orange," oil and acrylic on canvas by Carl Krabill, is more abstract, reminiscent of North America's autumnal colors. Others, however, interpreted the challenge more loosely. Bonnie Dolin's "Still Life, PS, # 1," a brilliantly colored assortment of still-life flowers, would light up an embassy wall, but fails to conjure anything uniquely American. Through June 4 at Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, 1834 E. 123rd St., 216-721-9020. -- Michel

It's a Wonderful Life: Psychodrama in Contemporary Painting -- The 49 works that make up this Spaces show address death, violence, and other episodes of daily living gone wrong. Twenty-four artists, working in a diverse array of contemporary genres, present intimate glimpses into the darker parts of their psyches; the overall effect, unsurprisingly, is rather gloomy and disjointed. Jason Sleurs's eye-catching, somewhat grotesque animal paintings (an otter aggressively gnawing at a starfish; a beaver mounting a platypus) collide with Marlene Dumas's watercolor portrait of an obnoxious kid ("Rotten Child"). A troubled childhood inspired Henry Darger's work; his lingering pain is palpable in the fascinating watercolor "Free Child Prisoners," in which numerous pretty little girls are fleeing what looks like a series of explosions on the horizon. But if the show's range of themes and colors is exhilarating, its general pessimism can be overwhelming. For a more jovial frolic, the 1947 film of the same name is a safer bet. Through May 14 at Spaces, 2220 Superior Viaduct, 216-621-2314. -- Michel

Kelly McLane: My Blue-Green Algae -- Nature's raw power is beautifully rendered in McLane's large-scale graphite-and-acrylic paintings. "Soon on Me," placed at the entrance to a small room dedicated to her work, is the catalyst in a narrative that develops through four images. A tsunami soars over a city, tearing down a bridge in its furor. "Survivor" depicts a lone house drifting, attached to the mainland by cables and afloat thanks to numerous rubber tires strewn about its structure. McLane's watered-down aquas and transparent oranges give the devastation a lightness, perhaps indicating admiration for the planet's ability to transform. As the show's title suggests, the artist is interested in blue-green algae (aka cyanobacteria), believed to have been among the world's first living organisms. Six small figurative graphite drawings show another facet of McLane's original and finely executed vision. "You Pissed Your Pants" and "Hunting Season," for example, showcase emotionally defining moments in children's lives. Through August 22 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7340. -- Michel

Modern American Masters: Highlights From the Gill and Tommy LiPuma Collection -- Native Clevelander Tommy LiPuma's eye for art rivals his ear for music. Nominated for 30 Grammys, the renowned producer also cultivated an in-depth knowledge of modern American art, his passion for which is reflected in the 24 works on display. It's an overview of what LiPuma considers to be the best by American modernists from the early 20th century. Indeed, paintings by Marsden Hartley, Arnold Friedman, Arthur Dove, John Marin, and John Graham -- all underappreciated gems -- are perfect examples of how the use of pure, luminous color and intense texture revolutionized the art world and spawned abstract expressionism. A fine initiation to underexposed American talent, the show also highlights the pleasure art can provide for people from all walks of life. Also on view, Burchfield to Schreckengost: Cleveland Art of the Jazz Age (through July 18), a celebration of rarely seen works by other Clevelanders who give the city a good name. Though July 28 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350. -- Michel

Senenkunya: Many Voices, One Family -- Everyday objects displayed in their cultural context create an intimate portrait of life in West Africa. Photographs by Peggy Turbett (photo editor for The Plain Dealer) document her visit to Mali in 2002: Colorful rituals and the daily tasks of women are pictured in vibrant, large-scale images, revealing an alternative West African reality that has nothing to do with war or poverty. On the main floor, artifacts are displayed alongside life-sized reproductions of village homes and other structures. Among the highlights: the Toga, a decision-making area with a low ceiling that forces village men to sit down, thus eliminating height inequalities that might upset the balance of power. Another realistic scene is a market cart, strewn with hanging fruit and resting alongside the facade of a 13th-century mud mosque. In this way, utilitarian objects take on resounding new life as art. It's an engaging, hugely enlightening experience. Through August 29 at the Museum of Natural History, 1 Wade Oval Dr., 216-231-4600. -- Michel

Small Monuments -- The word "monument" conjures images of the Taj Mahal or the Statue of Liberty. This inaugural exhibit at MOCA's Sky Lounge delivers on the "small," but not much else. Small-format paintings and drawings are meant to examine the relationship between monuments and public and private space. The title seems far-fetched for this selection of works, which have little to do with the subject or even with each other. Charles Kanswisher's Real Estate Drawings -- graphite replicas of houses based on photographs of real estate -- depict typical Ohio architecture and vacant land. Problem is, the homes don't look quite old enough to be considered monuments; nor are they particularly remarkable in any way. Only Christine Kuper's abstract-meets-representational urban landscapes might fit the bill: Her paintings are both aesthetically pleasing and reminiscent of interesting locations. Sky Lounge is 95 linear feet of wall space on MOCA's mezzanine level, dedicated to showcasing emerging local artists. It's an exciting new space; sadly, its inaugural exhibit can't match its appeal. Through May 23 at MOCA, 8501 Carnegie Ave., 216-421-8671. -- Michel

Spring Fling With Don King -- Swirling psychedelic colors abound in the work of Don King, whose untitled abstract paintings create a groovy virtual-disco paradise in the gallery's back room and main exhibition space. King's musical inspiration is evident in the rhythmic lines, spirals, and metallic colors. One standout is the nine-piece "Jacket Series": differently patterned 24-inch squares displayed a couple inches apart, in a grid-like grouping inspired by LP covers. The effect is that of a modern mosaic. Four-panel screens offer a different way of displaying King's eye-popping musings. (His work ranges from large pieces priced between $225 and $1,400 to small journals priced from $25 to $35.) Complementing King's artificiality are the works of Davis Szekeres and Gisela Towner, on view in the gallery's front room. Both are inspired by real landscapes, particularly Lake Erie's shoreline: Szekeres' "Erie Violence" shows a storm wave crashing at Edgewater Park. In Towner's "Breakwall," a sailboat drifts into a sunset. The two artists have similar realist styles. Paradise's show is well balanced and showcases budding talents from both ends of the artistic spectrum. Through May 22 at Paradise Gallery, 2199 Lee Rd., 216-554-5548. -- Michel

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