Arts » Visual Art

On View

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

NEW

Dukes and Angels -- This exhibition transports modern viewers to the Court of Burgundy in the 14th and 15th centuries. Included are luxury objects belonging to the first Valois dukes of Burgundy, Philip the Bold and John the Fearless: portraits of the dukes, illuminated manuscripts (such as Aristotle's Ethics), crowns, stone sculptures, and devotional images. Though requiring a lot of reading and concentration, this exhibition inspires a sense of awe at the power and wealth the dukes wielded. Through January 9 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Boulevard, 216-421-7350, www.clevelandart.org. -- Tami Miller

Memory -- Featuring New York-based artists Judy Pfaff and Valerie Hammond, Memory is about nature and life. Pfaff juxtaposes images of nature and architecture, using the combined print techniques of photogravure, etching, and lithography. Her images read like a filmstrip within their frame, moving from the macro to the micro. Panoramic views of an Asian garden and its shrines are lined up with an image of a fern, followed by a scientific diagram of the same plant, creating a sense of continuum in life. Hammond collages plants and flowers within outlined shapes of friends' hands; her flowers and ferns create henna-like designs within their palms, fingers, and forearms. Hammond then dips the paper in a soft ivory wax; the built-up effect, with its soft colors and glowing layers, is ethereal and lovely. Through November 28 at M% Gallery, 12812 Larchmere Boulevard, 216-990-3349, www.Mpercent.com. -- Miller

MOCA in the Making -- Graduate students in the architecture and environmental design programs at Kent State University were asked to design a dream building for the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland as the cultural hub of University Circle. A jury selected the four strongest proposals, and their computed-generated images and models are now on view in MOCA's sky lounge. The ideas are exciting, but the exhibition does not provide enough explanation of the students' decisions. There is also a disconnect between the 2-D designs and 3-D models, due to poor layout. Through February 20 at MOCA Cleveland, 8501 Carnegie Avenue, 216-421-8671, www.MOCAcleveland.org. -- Miller

Parallel Lives -- The 13th Annual Women's Invitational features Gloria Plevin and Bonnie Dolin. Plevin's works -- in acrylic, pastels, and etchings -- are comforting. From a young girl reading to a dog on a porch at dusk to a family walking in the winter, Plevin's awkward, flat figures provide a sense of truthfulness to what might otherwise be overly idealized subjects. In contrast, Dolin's oil paintings are striking for their vibrant palette and sense of depth. Using a camera and computer to prepare her work, she paints tight flower arrangements with highly saturated color on contrasting white tabletops. Dolin also paints urban scenes: Cleveland-centric paintings such as "View of East 9th St." could be mistaken for any city. Through November 21 at the Wasmer Gallery at Ursuline College, 2550 Lander Road, 440-646-8371. -- Miller

ONGOING

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, www.clemusart.com. -- Chris Kelley

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. 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

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

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

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

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