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Six First Friday reviews



Cages by Blythe Hager
  • "Cages" by Blythe Hager

Exchange: Amy Reel
Gallery 924 through April 26
4 stars
Amy Reel uses her family members and friends as models to create face portraits, in ink and conté crayon, that are often much larger than the patrons who view them. Sometimes you see expressionistic touches in these paintings that convey the subtleties of human expression with a compelling hypnotic power.

Gabriel Lehman
Indy Indie Artist Colonythrough April 25
3 and a half stars
Many of Gabriel Lehman's paintings include waiflike females set against the backdrop of strangely-lit alien skies. In "Sweet Dreams," you see a nude waif hanging onto a VW Bug-sized teapot with one hand and the cords of a parachute with the other while falling from the sky. Evoking a strange, naïve eroticism, this painting also seems to underscore the fragility of all life, alien or terrestrial.

Stutz Open House Preview: First Look
Raymond James Stutz Art Gallery through April 27
3 stars
There was some good work to see here: a space-expanding abstract painting by Susan Brewer entitled "Lyrical Stillness" that sees her going way beyond her Robert Berkshire influences. There was on view a finely-rendered sketch by Jim Gerard by a figure in motion - more motion than figure. But some of the most compelling pieces in this show, such as Ginny Taylor Rosner's photographs of windmills in Northern Indiana, had been displayed before in previous Stutz shows.

Harrison Center for the Arts through April 26
3 stars
The wall text for Elizabeth Smith's "Supernova" draws a comparison between the structure of the most elemental particles in the universe and the largest - supernovas - to snowflakes. The thousand-odd beadwork "snowflakes" hanging on the gallery wall each have a unique design like snowflakes but without the Smith's wall text, I don't think I would've drawn any extraterrestrial or subatomic comparisons. Likewise with her dimensionally-titled paintings, engagingly decorative, that you might describe as candyland arabesques. Sharing this space are Matt Kenyon's stunningly beautiful glass vases that propose a certain unified field theory of design and function.

Blythe Hager: Gloaming
Dewclaw Gallery through April 27
Four stars
The last show of Carla Knopp's fine gallery featured the beautifully composed and unsettling paintings of Blythe Hager. In "Cages" you see three bird cages and a glowing TV screen against the dark green wall of an interior room. Perhaps this room, and the surrounding house, is a cage for the unseen residents as much as the birdcages are for the birds. Her landscapes are equally depopulated; even when you see people in them, they're faced away from you. In "Wonderland" you see a woman playing croquet. But maybe she has momentarily stopped playing croquet. Perhaps she is gazing into the deep green swath of the woods beyond, where she has just overheard the insane ramblings of the mad hatter.

Tese: Chido Johnson
iMOCA through May 18
Four stars
The standout for me in Chido Johnson's multi-faceted exhibit here was "Let's Talk About Love, Baby." This is a collaborative project where different artists asked to submit an artistically embellished (or mutilated, depending on your point of view) book into Johnson's "Love Library" and each is assigned a call number. You could spend hours perusing the books in this collection. One particularly amusing book with a purple cover is entitled "All the People I've Ever Loved." When you open it up a mechanical tally counter adds you to the artist's love list!


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