Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

On View 

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

Daring Decade: Women in the 1920s -- After WWI, American girls wanted to be more independent, and simply constructed, loose-fitting, low-waisted evening dresses made it easy to fox-trot late into the night. One of several examples of the genre is a Lanvin purple chiffon dress, circa 1929; the blouson shape of the top and the ruffles on the skirt have made several reappearances over the decades. Jantzen tested the waters of modesty with a wine-colored, knitted beach garment that might today be called a tankini. But it's the stories behind the clothes that make this a relevant show. Women of the 1920s planted the seeds of fashion as we know it today, when women can wear anything they want. Through October 24 at Western Reserve Historical Society, 10825 East Blvd., 216-721-5722. -- Nadia Michel

CIA Faculty Exhibition -- This exhibition's sole disappointment lies in the sheer variety of its media. Daniel Cuffaro's industrial design of a plastic "Vick's Cool Mist Humidifier" offers a marked contrast in materials to Kevin Kautenberger's "Buoy/Stack," made of beeswax, poplar, cedar, pollen, and mirror. Brent Kee Young's "Trap," based on an Asian fishing trap, seamlessly melds representation with abstract forms and is a lustrous example of glasswork, reflecting light at every twist of its flame-worked Pyrex rods. Mary Jo Tole's ammonia-toned gelatin prints of trees are haunting, with their gray-washed backgrounds and leafless, glowing branches. Through October 24 at Reinberger Gallery, Cleveland Institute of Art, 11141 East Blvd., 216-421-7407, www.cia.edu -- Tami Miller

Nature Sublime: Landscapes From the Nineteenth Century -- On display are Japanese prints from the 1800s and paintings, drawings, and prints from France, England, Germany, and America, all of which capture the spirit of Romanticism. Witnessing the industrial revolution, these artists yearned for a simpler life close to nature and sought inspiration in landscapes. Simultaneously in France, prints from Edo, Japan (now Tokyo) were prized, and Western artists adopted Japanese compositional devices like asymmetry, the approach to perspective, and attention to decorative detail. The similarities are apparent in the colorful lithographic prints of Henri Rivière: Planes of color, rather than strokes or lines, describe landscapes, lending a cartoon quality to his and the Japanese prints. Edo was a city mostly of men; the samurai left the countryside for the pleasure district of Edo, because the firmly established authority of the shogun precluded armed rivalries, making the samurai virtually obsolete. The prints reflect this lifestyle, referred to as "Ukiyo-e," the floating world, and a life without any real foundation, depicting the transitory nature of life. Through November 14 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7340, www.clemusart.com. -- Chris Kelley

On the Wall. Off the Wall. In the Garden. -- Frank Brozman's latest steel sculptures, installed inside and outside Tremont's Atmosphere gallery, range in style from literal representations to abstract forms. Inside, pieces mounted on hammered copper sheets include a stainless-steel cityscape and an intimated window frame ("Window to the Soul") with metaphorical implications. The large outdoor works, a refreshing switch from typical gallery displays, include natural motifs such as overlapping collages of leaves and a strutting bird. Brozman's most stylistically consistent and aesthetically pleasing sculptures are the mounted swirls of tapered steel; their movement lends a complementary gracefulness to the simple forms. Less successful are the representational works, including a pair of flattened olive-green hands that extend skyward from their base. Through November 24 at Atmosphere, 2335 W 11th St., 216-685-9527. -- Miller

Predominantly Red -- Graphic designer Nancy Wasylyshyn has noticed her clients' growing affinity for the color red, and she's transformed that passion into this show's theme. From color-field paintings to multihued series of canvases, the works here hold no secrets or underlying messages -- they are simply explorations of her central color. Texture, size, orientation, and richness vary along with the shades of red, from ruddy orange to deep Venetian to glowing purple. The color has a long history of seducing art lovers by demanding their attention within works; in Wasylyshyn's show, however, the typically hot hue exudes a much cooler attitude. She's succeeded in her exploration, though there's really nothing memorable here. Through October 30 at Bockrath Gallery, 2026 Murray Hill Rd., 216-721-5990. -- Miller

Seeing Spots? -- This show features new work by the versatile Cleveland artist Laurel Herbold. Painted mostly on Masonite board with latex paint, Herbold's recent images consist of several layers of washes applied and rubbed out, followed by loose grids of dripped paint and then tightly applied details. Frequently, central images are trapped within the built-up layers. This intricate process lends her work a sense of age, as the contained subject matter attains an archaic quality. Such is the case in her painting titled "Upstream." In it, several tiny fish and other creatures tunnel through the center of the work, bounded on both sides by a murky web of earth-toned hues, reminiscent of the textures of a riverbed. In another work, an elaborate eye floats at the center of the painting, suspended beneath lines of dripped paint and minutely applied geometric forms. The extent of minuscule details within Herbold's paintings can be likened to the intricacies of a microchip. Through October 30 at Vivid Art Gallery in the Colonial Artcade, 530 Euclid Ave., 216-241-7624. -- Miller

Trophies of the Hunt: Capturing Nature as Art -- Beautifully rendered photographs from the Cleveland Museum of Art's permanent collection celebrate the macabre ethos of the hunt. Intended to capture nature, several of the images instead relay death. The most disturbing image is Joel-Peter Witkin's 1990 photograph "Feast of Fools." Arranged as a still life, the photo includes decaying fruit and vegetables amid severed hands, feet, and even an infant corpse. Drawing on a long tradition of imagery in still-life painting, this picture is reminiscent of the work of the French painter Géricault. Other, less haunting items are snapshots of individuals who display such prizes as a fish, a swan, and a pig's head. One charming photograph, by Cleveland native Barbara Bosworth, shows fireflies in a jar. Comparing hunters and photographers, the show effectively relays how grim subject matter can become a visual feast. Trophies of the Hunt will be on view through November 3 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., University Circle, 216-421-7340 -- Miller

U.S.B.S. 2004 Cleveland Collection -- 650 glass test tubes line the walls of the Sculpture Center in this exhibition by Kirk Coffey. The U.S. Biological Survey, Coffey's fictional premise, is a collection of biological and genetic specimens of organic material. The tubes are filled with remnants of insects, birds, seedpods, claws, teeth, and other familiar signs of life, the sterile samples illuminated along backlit panels that showcase them like multiple x-rays. Viewers are asked to donate their own genetic specimens by swabbing the inside of their cheek with a Q-tip, which is then placed, like the rest of the specimens, in a test tube and displayed in place of another tube. Participants may also complete anonymous surveys detailing their families' medical history, which are then incorporated into the display. Coffey is obviously commenting on the increased influence and importance of genetic research, but it is less clear what he's actually accomplishing. In spite of the ambiguous intent, the organic specimens are quite beautiful, upon close examination. Through October 29 at the Sculpture Center, 1834 E 123rd St., 216-229-8044. -- Miller

Yangtze Close-Up -- Linda Butler spent four years creating and publishing her black-and-white photographs of the transformation of China's Yangtze River. More politically minded than her previous projects, it strives to juxtapose the ages-old grandeur of the region with its recent, rapid modernization. This is well illustrated in a photo titled "Temple and New Bridge, Da Fosi," in which the classic forms of a historic temple in the foreground are contrasted with the contemporary lines of a newly erected bridge behind it. Butler witnessed the construction of 13 new bridges across the river in the short time she spent visiting the area. Even when she doesn't include people in her compositions, their presence is always felt: From market scenes to boat repairs, dying livelihoods are documented as much as the new ways of life that supplant them. These photographs are as beautiful as they are insightful. Through October 31 at the Bonfoey Gallery, 1710 Euclid Avenue, 216-621-0178. -- Miller

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    Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.
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