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Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions 

NEW

They Never Saw It Coming Graffiti is often illusionistic, but there is no illusion in Clevelander Bob Peck's exhibition. He presents his art, both abstract and representational work, in a smorgasbord of media, alongside biographical musings scribbled on the wall. He even includes a video documenting his work process. This provides viewers with insight into how each piece fits into Peck's evolution from street painter to gallery artist. Graffiti taught Peck self-confidence and discipline, and he still draws upon the character traits and the design skills he learned on the street, now that his paintings are executed on canvas and displayed on white walls. "After all these years, I still use the tools of the trade, and each abstract is a snippet of days past," he writes. The assuredness and grace of the line work in Peck's abstract paintings and drawings are stunning. The titles of his paintings — "Action Packed," "More Than Expected," and "Dive Bomb," among others — mirror the forcefulness of the loops and swirls of thick and thin lines that follow the outline of the soft-edged shapes of the background. His deceptively simple abstract drawings with marker and pen on paper have a wide variety of line weights and balanced compositions that undoubtedly reflect his start outside the studio. Through July 20 at Artchitecture Gallery, 1667 E. 40th St. Unit 1A, 216-533-5575. — Theresa Bembnister

ONGOING

Artist as Quiltmaker XIII Crafting may be a hip hobby for twentysomethings, but only a hardcore crafter goes beyond the usual projects — jewelry fashioned from PBR bottle caps, crocheted iPod cozies, etc. — to take up quilting. The handiwork of such diehard crafty folk from across the country is on display for this biennial juried exhibition, and it sets the standard for those stocking up on fabric scraps. Here, visitors should be happy to note, quilters avoid common symmetrical blocks, instead making imaginative plays on the traditional bedcovering — moves that involve the same kind of design decisions about pattern, color, and texture made by painters and other less craft-y artists. As a result, these quilts are not functional; they're the expressions of individuals. Rebekka Seigel, for one, uses old yearbook photos to make a political statement in "The Real Cost of War: Class of 1911" and "The Real Cost of War: Class of 1966," in which she recreates the smiling faces of high-school seniors before their lives were presumably altered by the realities of warfare. Molly Elkind's "13 Ways of Looking at Dodd's Creek," meanwhile, features tiny strips of fabric, covered with whirling patterns of stitches and beads, which resemble the movement of running water. With its intimate size and intricate details, Elkind's quilt comes across as a personalized document. Through August 2 at the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts Gallery, 39 S. Main St., Oberlin, 440-774-7158. — Bembnister

Living in Your Imagination For Spaces' 30th-anniversary show, curator William Busta selected artists who displayed work there in each of the last 10 years. The resulting exhibition features not the fantastical, as the title might suggest, but mundane, everyday experiences, filtered through artists' robust imaginations. Florida artist Billie Grace Lynn gives concrete form to the "elephant in the room" with three life-size, puffy pachyderms. Fashioned from a diaphanous nylon, the animals stretch from floor to ceiling, dominating the front of the gallery. Viewers must walk around them to get a closer look at Cleveland artist Amy Casey's acrylic paintings on paper, which present scenes familiar to Clevelanders — drab neighborhoods, dingy industrial plants, and bright orange construction cones. Only Casey removes the ground from her cityscapes. The buildings hang from a system of ropes woven like a spiderweb, or are propped up by the slats of fences normally used to demarcate land and property. But the everyday is most apparent in "North," by Virginia artist Kevin Everson. In this short looped video, a bundled-up man stands near a scenic overlook in heavy winds, trying in vain to refold a road map. His unsuccessful attempts to recreate the original order of the creases mirror the disappointment of being caught in the cruddy weather — something we can all relate to. Through July 6 at Spaces, 2220 Superior Viaduct, Cleveland, 216-621-2314. — Bembnister

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