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Review: Useful and Beautiful: A Return to Myth and Romance in Art

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3.5 stars

Big Hat Books. The Pre-Raphaelites were a group of 19th century English artists who drew inspiration from the early Flemish and Renaissance masters and painted mythical and romantic subject matter. It's not a stretch to say that the art that you see on the cover of your typical fantasy novel owes something to the Pre-Raphaelite tradition. So Big Hat Books seems like a very appropriate venue for this show, which was inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites. The curator, Michelle Merle Pace, included the work of Scottish painter and illustrator Julia Jeffrey alongside the work of numerous locally based artists. Jeffrey's "The Invocation" (mixed media on paper) is a beautifully conceived portrait of a young woman in medieval Celtic garb and it looks like it might belong on the cover of a fantasy novel. In fact, Jeffrey has illustration a number of book covers in the fantasy genre. Pace herself has a number of her own quirky works here in a variety of media including monotype prints, ink on paper, and photography. In the self-portrait photograph "Ophelia Part II" she portrays herself as Hamlet's doomed lover, tired of his shenanigans and ready to move on with her life. Through Oct. 24; 202-0203.

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