Artist Shakes Off the Rust

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Who'd have thought art connoisseurs would go ape over portraits of rusted metal? Mark Thomas never gave it a second thought. On opening night of his Ballast exhibit at Up Periscope (8307 Madison Avenue, 440-574-9073) earlier this month, the Westlake painter sold seven -- seven! -- of the 12 pieces on the wall, at $200 a pop. Why all the fuss over corroded steel, brass, and copper? "The chemical change from being polished shiny to slowly breaking down over time and turning brittle yet even more colorful," says Thomas. "It's almost nature's way of abstract painting." Ballast runs through November 10. -- Cris Glaser

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