Arts » Visual Art

On View

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

The art museums Trophies of the Hunt documents - mans treatment of animals.
  • The art museums Trophies of the Hunt documents mans treatment of animals.
Needful Things: Recent Multiples -- Walking into gallery 244 at the Cleveland Museum of Art is like walking into one mighty hip rummage sale. From a snow globe with John Ashcroft's head in it to mummified Barbies, a salt-and-pepper-shaker set labeled "heroin" and "cocaine," and a massive gold chain sporting a CNN pendant made out of Styrofoam and gold foil, the objects may not be "needful" at all, but they are curiously desirable. Some works are more serious -- like Russian artist Constantin Boym's bonded-nickel commemorative souvenirs of the Twin Towers and Three Mile Island -- but most are lighthearted and fun, like British artist Damien Hirst's oversized edition of a paint-by-numbers kit. Still, comments on consumption within this exhibition are thought-provoking. Through January 2 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7340, -- Tami Miller

On the Wall. Off the Wall. In the Garden. -- Frank Brozman's latest steel sculptures, installed inside and outside Tremont's Atmosphere gallery, range in style from literal representations to abstract forms. Inside, pieces mounted on hammered copper sheets include a stainless-steel cityscape and an intimated window frame ("Window to the Soul") with metaphorical implications. The large outdoor works, a refreshing switch from typical gallery displays, include natural motifs such as overlapping collages of leaves and a strutting bird. Brozman's most stylistically consistent and aesthetically pleasing sculptures are the mounted swirls of tapered steel; their movement lends a complementary gracefulness to the simple forms. Less successful are the representational works, including a pair of flattened olive-green hands that extend skyward from their base. Through November 24 at Atmosphere, 2335 W 11th St., 216-685-9527. -- Miller

Predominantly Red -- Graphic designer Nancy Wasylyshyn has noticed her clients' growing affinity for the color red, and she's transformed that passion into this show's theme. From color-field paintings to multihued series of canvases, the works here hold no secrets or underlying messages -- they are simply explorations of her central color. Texture, size, orientation, and richness vary along with the shades of red, from ruddy orange to deep Venetian to glowing purple. The color has a long history of seducing art lovers by demanding their attention within works; in Wasylyshyn's show, however, the typically hot hue exudes a much cooler attitude. She's succeeded in her exploration, though there's really nothing memorable here. Through October 30 at Bockrath Gallery, 2026 Murray Hill Rd., 216-721-5990. -- Miller

U.S.B.S. 2004 Cleveland Collection -- 650 glass test tubes line the walls of the Sculpture Center in this exhibition by Kirk Coffey. The U.S. Biological Survey, Coffey's fictional premise, is a collection of biological and genetic specimens of organic material. The tubes are filled with remnants of insects, birds, seedpods, claws, teeth, and other familiar signs of life, the sterile samples illuminated along backlit panels that showcase them like multiple x-rays. Viewers are asked to donate their own genetic specimens by swabbing the inside of their cheek with a Q-tip, which is then placed, like the rest of the specimens, in a test tube and displayed in place of another tube. Participants may also complete anonymous surveys detailing their families' medical history, which are then incorporated into the display. Coffey is obviously commenting on the increased influence and importance of genetic research, but it is less clear what he's actually accomplishing. In spite of the ambiguous intent, the organic specimens are quite beautiful, upon close examination. Through October 29 at the Sculpture Center, 1834 E 123rd St., 216-229-8044. -- Miller

Yangtze Close-Up -- Linda Butler spent four years creating and publishing her black-and-white photographs of the transformation of China's Yangtze River. More politically minded than her previous projects, it strives to juxtapose the ages-old grandeur of the region with its recent, rapid modernization. This is well illustrated in a photo titled "Temple and New Bridge, Da Fosi," in which the classic forms of a historic temple in the foreground are contrasted with the contemporary lines of a newly erected bridge behind it. Butler witnessed the construction of 13 new bridges across the river in the short time she spent visiting the area. Even when she doesn't include people in her compositions, their presence is always felt: From market scenes to boat repairs, dying livelihoods are documented as much as the new ways of life that supplant them. These photographs are as beautiful as they are insightful. Through October 31 at the Bonfoey Gallery, 1710 Euclid Avenue, 216-621-0178. -- Miller

Daring Decade: Women in the 1920s -- After WWI, American girls wanted to be more independent, and simply constructed, loose-fitting, low-waisted evening dresses made it easy to fox-trot late into the night. One of several examples of the genre is a Lanvin purple chiffon dress, circa 1929; the blouson shape of the top and the ruffles on the skirt have made several reappearances over the decades. Jantzen tested the waters of modesty with a wine-colored, knitted beach garment that might today be called a tankini. But it's the stories behind the clothes that make this a relevant show. Women of the 1920s planted the seeds of fashion as we know it today, when women can wear anything they want. Through October 24 at Western Reserve Historical Society, 10825 East Blvd., 216-721-5722. -- Nadia Michel

CIA Faculty Exhibition -- This exhibition's sole disappointment lies in the sheer variety of its media. Daniel Cuffaro's industrial design of a plastic "Vick's Cool Mist Humidifier" offers a marked contrast in materials to Kevin Kautenberger's "Buoy/Stack," made of beeswax, poplar, cedar, pollen, and mirror. Brent Kee Young's "Trap," based on an Asian fishing trap, seamlessly melds representation with abstract forms and is a lustrous example of glasswork, reflecting light at every twist of its flame-worked Pyrex rods. Mary Jo Tole's ammonia-toned gelatin prints of trees are haunting, with their gray-washed backgrounds and leafless, glowing branches. Through October 24 at Reinberger Gallery, Cleveland Institute of Art, 11141 East Blvd., 216-421-7407, -- Miller

M3 (M to the Third Power) -- Gallery M's first-birthday show features work by three exceptional fine jewelry artists. Diane Field's pieces veer more toward being small sculpture, rather than functional jewelry. Field adds thin strands of metal netting to minute surgical implements used for cosmetic surgery, creating indeterminate forms. Anya Pinchuk's intricate and attractive brooches, rings, and pendants incorporate clusters of circles and squares. Liaung-Chung Yen's architectural metal rings are like hollow monoliths, with a clean and elegant design that often features a pearl or stone. Both Pinchuk and Yen are emerging artists who are gaining increased national attention. Through October 17 at M Gallery, 1667 E 40th Street, 216-773-8277. -- Miller

Motion and Texture -- Elise Newman, a Cleveland artist, doesn't try to overcontrol her media. She works with them, letting watercolors run, pastels be chalky, and handmade fibers be bulky, while creating wonderfully vibrant and intuitive works of abstract art. In a small watercolor collage on paper titled "The Garden," Newman creates an intimate work with colorful detail. Her artwork is paired with that of Venezuelan sculptor Gisela Raffalli, whose bronze sculptures feature strong, voluptuous women. "Estirandose" is a figure of a woman stretching from a golden hoop. Only the barest essentials of her figure are defined, turning her hearty figure into a lush outline of green patina. The contrast of styles and media works well in this exhibit. Through October 20 at La Cachette Gallery, 20 E. Orange St., Chagrin Falls, 216-401-8920 -- Miller

Nature Sublime: Landscapes From the Nineteenth Century -- On display are Japanese prints from the 1800s and paintings, drawings, and prints from France, England, Germany, and America, all of which capture the spirit of Romanticism. Witnessing the industrial revolution, these artists yearned for a simpler life close to nature and sought inspiration in landscapes. Simultaneously in France, prints from Edo, Japan (now Tokyo) were prized, and Western artists adopted Japanese compositional devices like asymmetry, the approach to perspective, and attention to decorative detail. The similarities are apparent in the colorful lithographic prints of Henri Rivière: Planes of color, rather than strokes or lines, describe landscapes, lending a cartoon quality to his and the Japanese prints. Edo was a city mostly of men; the samurai left the countryside for the pleasure district of Edo, because the firmly established authority of the shogun precluded armed rivalries, making the samurai virtually obsolete. The prints reflect this lifestyle, referred to as "Ukiyo-e," the floating world, and a life without any real foundation, depicting the transitory nature of life. Through November 14 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7340, -- Chris Kelley

The Pilgrimage: The Land Beyond Cellphones -- David Rankin's watercolor paintings have been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution's Conservation and Research Center as well as locally in the collection of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Rankin specializes in portraits of birds and big cats as well as exotic landscapes and endangered animals, all of which are painted from real life. This exhibition displays several of Rankin's big-cat watercolors and landscapes. "In the Heat of the Day" features a tiger resting in the sand beneath bamboo trees. Elegantly painted, the relaxed tiger is almost lost among the undulating shadows of the bamboo in the sand. "Noon Sky Recipe," a simple landscape, is an example of the three-layer process of applying watercolors that has become Rankin's signature. Through October 10 at Ohio City Gallery & Circle Studios, 1940 W. 45th St., 216-961-1307 -- Miller

Seeing Spots? -- This show features new work by the versatile Cleveland artist Laurel Herbold. Painted mostly on Masonite board with latex paint, Herbold's recent images consist of several layers of washes applied and rubbed out, followed by loose grids of dripped paint and then tightly applied details. Frequently, central images are trapped within the built-up layers. This intricate process lends her work a sense of age, as the contained subject matter attains an archaic quality. Such is the case in her painting titled "Upstream." In it, several tiny fish and other creatures tunnel through the center of the work, bounded on both sides by a murky web of earth-toned hues, reminiscent of the textures of a riverbed. In another work, an elaborate eye floats at the center of the painting, suspended beneath lines of dripped paint and minutely applied geometric forms. The extent of minuscule details within Herbold's paintings can be likened to the intricacies of a microchip. Through October 30 at Vivid Art Gallery in the Colonial Artcade, 530 Euclid Ave., 216-241-7624. -- Miller

Still Center -- New York-based artist Katarina Wong's installation is at once simple, joyous, and profound. Painting directly onto four walls, she has created a steel-blue background for numerous stickpins, each topped by a glob of wax similar in shape to the thick dab of a paintbrush. The pins collect, gather, and move away from each other in effortless lines. White on the outer edges of their pattern, the wax tips turn to black as they culminate and back to white again as they disperse. The effect of the design is migratory, as if the artist is tracing the passage of birds across the sky. The graceful, delicate movement of the lines and the shape of the wax reflects the artist's interest in Chinese brushstrokes. The accompanying wall text reveals that the wax tips of the pins are actually molds cast from fingertips. The installation can be appreciated without this knowledge, but the artist's interest in the Buddhist concept of interdependency lends another dimension to the work. Through October 15 at SPACES, 2220 Superior Viaduct, 216-621-2314, -- Miller

The Teacher and the Student -- Russian émigré Ilya Kabakov has created a Beaux Arts museum within Cleveland MOCA's gallery walls. Complete with art-history timelines, detailed wall labels, quotations from artists' letters, and citations of artistic influences and movements, this visual production tells the story of the fictitious artist Charles Rosenthal, his influence on the protégé he never met, and the efforts made by both artists to reconcile Soviet realism with abstraction in their paintings. A huge undertaking on all counts, this immense installation disappoints only in the "real" artwork. Much like actual examples of Russian Suprematist painting, the artworks are conceptually interesting, but aesthetically bland. Rosenthal's canvases are largely a stark white, with small squares of realist images painted in the corners. Horizontal rectangles of solid color are placed haphazardly throughout the compositions, although they are in fact intentionally positioned according to the dictates of Suprematist art. The protégé's canvases concentrate on larger realist images, bordered on various sides with murky black edges and infiltrated by random floating geometric shapes. The attraction of this exhibition lies in its intellectualized artifice, rather than its visual vitality. On view through January 2 at MOCA Cleveland, 8501 Carnegie Ave., 216-421-8671, -- Miller

Trophies of the Hunt: Capturing Nature as Art -- Beautifully rendered photographs from the Cleveland Museum of Art's permanent collection celebrate the macabre ethos of the hunt. Intended to capture nature, several of the images instead relay death. The most disturbing image is Joel-Peter Witkin's 1990 photograph "Feast of Fools." Arranged as a still life, the photo includes decaying fruit and vegetables amid severed hands, feet, and even an infant corpse. Drawing on a long tradition of imagery in still-life painting, this picture is reminiscent of the work of the French painter Géricault. Other, less haunting items are snapshots of individuals who display such prizes as a fish, a swan, and a pig's head. One charming photograph, by Cleveland native Barbara Bosworth, shows fireflies in a jar. Comparing hunters and photographers, the show effectively relays how grim subject matter can become a visual feast. Trophies of the Hunt will be on view through November 3 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., University Circle, 216-421-7340 -- Miller

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