Aminals -- As art exhibits go, this one's pretty wild -- or at least undomesticated. Pretension and polish are nowhere to be found in this offbeat, animal-themed collection of works by local artists, organized by Clevelander Shawn Mishak. Depth too is scarce, but at least there's an intellectual path through the zoo: that we humans aren't much different from our beastly neighbors. Josh Banaszak draws the connection most clearly in "Pregnant." Painting crudely on untreated plywood, he depicts a nude, pregnant woman in profile, neck to stomach. Her breasts and belly are swollen to bursting, but the pink circle representing her womb is what grabs your attention. Scrawled over it is the word "mammalian," making the point that gestation and live birth are traits common to countless species. Mandy Szostek illustrates our remove from nature and pays sarcastic homage to our media obsession in "Modern Urban Totemic Animism," a totem pole-like structure formed from televisions. But the real zingers are the charms on the wall: Instead of statuettes, there are a cigarette box, a prescription-pill container, and a Red Bull can -- gods, indeed. Jeff Pasek takes the most poetic tack, seeking animal equivalents for human tendencies. One discovery is "Sleep Cycle," the show's most beautiful painting, in which monarch butterflies, stuck in a treeless, orange-tinted landscape, find rest in dangling from mysterious white lines. They can't sleep without a little external assistance, and neither can most of us. Until August 13 at Doubting Thomas Gallery, 856 Jefferson Avenue, Cleveland, 330-687-3355. -- Zachary Lewis
Retreat -- Sarah Kabot. Sarah Kabot. Sarah Kabot. If the Cleveland-based artist behind this cunning little installation is correct -- if repetition does, in fact, invite attention and promote memory -- you should remember her name for weeks. That's a good thing. Kabot drills home her theory by piecing together an elaborate framework from white-foam beams. The three-dimensional lattice hangs delicately from the ceiling, suspended by a few strands of practically invisible fishing line and appearing to hover in the air. Viewed from inside the tiny gallery, the structure, ethereal as it is, is out of context and makes little sense. The real magic transpires outside. Viewed through the shop-front window, the structure syncs up with the white panes of the gallery's many windows, creating a regression of the geometric pattern running deep into the interior. Kabot's intention with this mesmerizing sleight of hand is subtle but powerful: By calling attention to the gallery's design so delicately and strikingly, she invites viewers to examine not only this place, but all places -- to pay more attention to the nuances of the architectural and natural worlds. This isn't groundbreaking stuff: What Kabot explores is a major tenet of minimalism. But her way of making the argument couldn't be more imaginative. Furthermore, the lesson to stop and smell the roses, or at least savor their visual qualities, is always worth repeating. Until August 10 at Raw and Co Gallery, 1009 Kenilworth Avenue, Cleveland, 216-235-0635, www.rawandcogallery.com. -- Lewis
Storage Space -- Memory is a well-scoured subject, the inspiration for countless books, films, and musical compositions. But never has it been examined from so many angles simultaneously. The eight artists in this thoughtful group exhibition address the way we create, frame, alter, repress, and recall memories -- and practically every viewpoint manages to affect. Louisiana-based Mark Grote's "Heartland OBJ" is perhaps the most poignant. A rack jammed with countless pairs of dingy work-gloves, it feels like a relic from some coal mine's locker room: Behind each pair is a story, a life lived. Fredrik Marsh, of Westerville, points ingeniously to the lingering power of physical spaces in a series of vivid photos of abandoned apartments. One in Dresden, Germany, feels particularly alive: It's the corner of a room with a deep, dark hole in the wall near an exhaust pipe, electrical socket, some wire, and cracked plaster. This corner probably housed clothes dryers and nothing more, but Marsh endows it with a potent sense of mystery. But the most breathtaking and relevant works here are the blurred and darkly tinted war photographs by Dayton's Benjamin Montague. Through the haze, we see soldiers patrolling, bombs exploding, a helicopter crashing. Surely, if one could put the repressed memories of Iraq war veterans on film, they'd look something like Montague's images. Until August 3 at SPACES Gallery, 2220 Superior Viaduct, Cleveland, 216-621-2314, www.spacesgallery.org. -- Lewis
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.