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How Now, Lowbrow? 

Art display mimics new wave of pop-culture art that parrots comics and tats.

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A trio of Cleveland-area artists merges two kinds of surrealism from opposite sides of the country in a new exhibit, Paintings & Clay, which is on display through the beginning of next month in Rocky River. In the show, collage artist Lynn O'Brien, clay sculptor Kelly Palmer, and stoneware designer Kevin Snipes all work in the lowbrow movement, which is influenced by pop-art-like cartoons and tattoos. "It's a counterculture approach," says Ara Hamamjian, the gallery's owner. "The pieces are well rendered in a free-form approach, so they're thoughtfully done, but with a roughness to them." The movement can be traced to both American coastlines, from New York's gritty subway system to L.A.'s glitzy animation business. And the artists have transferred their designs to functional objects like teapots, bowls, and coffee cups. "East Coast would be more graffiti-like, and West Coast would be more Hollywood anime," says Mark Yasenchak, the studio's manager. "I don't think any artists — unless they're doing portraits in the classical style — couldn't say they're influenced by that movement of lowbrow art." The exhibit is running from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, through Saturday, May 3, at River Gallery, 19046 Old Detroit Road in Rocky River. Admission is free. Call 440-331-8406.
Tuesdays-Fridays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Starts: April 15. Continues through May 3, 2008

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