George C. Rousch II: Contemporary Abstracts -- Akron-based painter George C. Rousch II plays the part of the wandering loner in this show of recent work. On a sign at the door, he confesses that "mental driftwood" inspires his blurry abstracts. If that's true, the driftwood comes from a modern-art history course, because the majority of the work here seems plainly derivative of 20th-century masters. It's not bad; it's just not original. Painting with acrylic, Rousch appears to work quickly, smearing and cross-hatching a broad range of colors. Above this surface, he often adds thicker horizontal or vertical white lines that look like bars, imprisoning the image. Problem is, the foundation too closely resembles work by Gerhard Richter. Rousch's "Nichtziel Durch Vier," a much calmer painting divided into quadrants of deep red and purple, brings Barnett Newman to mind. A pair of diamond-shaped canvases, upon which the dominant of two colors has been slightly streaked, suggest the great Dutch modernist Piet Mondrian. Rousch's own vision emerges most clearly, even memorably, in a serene painting titled "True Gate." Here, long vertical red stripes tinged with yellow and green evoke a dense forest of birch trees as they would appear at sunset. Through January 31 at E. Gordon Gallery, 2026 Murray Hill Rd., 216-795-0971, www.egordongallery.com. -- Zachary Lewis
Luc Delahaye Photographs: History -- French photographer Luc Delahaye's 4-foot-by-8-foot images are narratives -- sometimes direct, sometimes subtle -- of world events. "Taliban," from 2001, shows the corpse of a man crumpled on a dusty road. His clothing blends with the rocks and fallen leaves around him; the only contrast of colors within the image is the brilliant red slash across his neck. "The Milosevic Trial," from 2002, is deceptively plain. Without the title, the image might be mistaken for any ordinary government conference room. Delahaye's compositions are often beautiful, even when the subject matter is disturbing. Their large size and wide views make them particularly effective. On view through February 23 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7340, www.clevelandart.org. -- Miller
Maria Bertán: New Paintings From France -- These works were created in the south of France and Brittany -- regions famous for their history of artistic inspiration. Bertán creates all of her paintings out of doors (en plein air), and subject matter varies from vivid fields of lavender to crowded markets to portraits and still lifes. Her canvases are filled with brilliant colors and impressionistic brush strokes, and her compositions are strong and controlled, maintaining an even sense of quality regardless of her subject. "Brittany Seascape With Flowers" is charming, with influences of Monet clearly evident. A field of grass and flowers in dappled colors leads to a grouping of quaint local homes before the seashore. "Apple Girl" features a gangly girl, not quite grown into her own body. At her feet, red apples are haphazardly arranged, matching the color of her sneakers. She is an image of youthful exuberance and natural beauty. Through January 20 at La Cachette Gallery, 20 E. Orange St., Chagrin Falls, 216-401-8920. -- Miller
MOCA in the Making -- Graduate students in the architecture and environmental design programs at Kent State University were asked to design a dream building for the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland as the cultural hub of University Circle. A jury selected the four strongest proposals, and their computed-generated images and models are now on view in MOCA's sky lounge. The ideas are exciting, but the exhibition does not provide enough explanation of the students' decisions. There is also a disconnect between the 2-D designs and 3-D models, due to poor layout. Through February 20 at MOCA Cleveland, 8501 Carnegie Ave., 216-421-8671, www.MOCAcleveland.org. -- Miller
Rapid Stasis: Time and Space on Cleveland's Transit Lines -- Three photographers -- Samara Peddle, Greg Ruffing, and Marie Ho -- jumped on Cleveland buses and trains, and started snapping black-and-white pictures. The result is gritty urban landscapes and striking portraits of people. Some are inspired compositions, such as Peddle's photo of a man, seated at the end of a passageway, in a pose like that of Rodin's "The Thinker," or Ruffing's shots of the city's decaying industrial past, as well as a view from the rear of a train descending into a pitch-black tunnel. Ho contributed at least three memorable images: "Headlights," a long exposure of light reflected on the side of a speeding train; an ironic picture of a solitary man, reading a book titled "How to Talk to Anyone"; and an elegantly abstract "Self-Portrait" that's really a long shadow cast along a narrow and tightly enclosed train platform. All three photographers belabor the point that mass transit often looks like mass alienation, causing their metaphor to fall flat. And some pictures go too far by taking advantage of an uncomfortable situation: It's hard to blame train passengers for hiding their faces or staring blankly off to the side when a stranger starts taking pictures. Overall, though, "Rapid Stasis" is well worth the trip. Through January 29 at The Gallery of Photographic Arts, 2512 Church Ave., 216-861-3062 -- Lewis
Visions of Japan: Prints and Paintings From Cleveland Collections -- The Cleveland Museum of Art has accrued an immense stock of Japanese prints, but it has never before mounted a show like "Visions of Japan," which spans the 18th century to modern times. The exhibit runs along a hallway, forming a sort of three-dimensional timeline. At one end is a wealth of early color paintings and woodcuts in the Ukiyo-e tradition: painstakingly detailed and varied landscapes of Mount Fuji, as well as crowd scenes from the city's geisha district and portraits featuring Kabuki actors. Major artists with recognizable styles are represented here, including Hokusai and Hiroshige. Modern Japanese artists reinvigorated the print tradition, using the craft in countless new ways and blending it with Western styles and techniques. Their work forms the show's second and perhaps more impressive half. With so much to see in this section, a few brief highlights must suffice: "Washing Hair," an ink-on-silk drawing of jaw-dropping beauty by Torii Kotondo; a tiny but surprisingly potent mezzotint called "Ball of Yarn" by Yozo Hamaguchi; and Kiyoshi Saito's masterful adaptation of natural wood grain into a picture. A minimalist abstract by Shoichi Ida, in which two ink-blots have soaked from opposite sides into a delicate sheet of paper, may be the most poetic and densely Japanese vision of them all. Through February 20 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., Cleveland, 216-421-7340, www.clevelandaart.org -- Lewis
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