Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

On View

Part Mountain -- Calvin Burton's objective is to blur the line between drawing and painting -- and to that end, he succeeds. Besotted by his native Nevada, the Virginia artist paints quasi-realistic landscapes involving mountains full of personal meaning seen from unusual perspectives. But he also tries to capture the spontaneity, looseness, and potential for error inherent in drawing. Thus his paintings also bear a certain unblended, imbalanced quality, in contrast to the infinitely refined, polished look of, say, a Rembrandt. Burton himself says he enjoys creating problems more than solving them. The concept is limited, but there's meat to it nonetheless. "Untitled (Part Mountain)," the show's centerpiece, features a snowcapped mountain rising from a desert as viewed from another peak. But atop this lovely scene, in willful defiance of compositional logic, Burton slaps a large hot-pink rectangle and a shocking patch of white. In most contexts, these would be mistakes, but here the contrast they provide is strangely refreshing. Similarly, "Battle Mountain" contains "problems": Triangular shards of clashing primary colors and a tongue-shaped mass of purple emanate from a mountain cave, confounding any true sense of realism. Instead, there's all the immediacy and pleasure of a geometric doodle, only more elaborate and in paint. Burton works in reverse, too, allowing painterly matters to influence drawings -- though this exchange seems more forced, judging by the wan, dot-and-dash-laden results. But there's no doubt Burton has something to say, and Raw probably is an ideal place for him to say it. Through May 4 at Raw & Co. Gallery, 1009 Kenilworth Ave., 216-235-0635. -- Zachary Lewis


Monet in Normandy -- Claude Monet's oeuvre has been presented a thousand times in a thousand ways, but never quite like this. Organized chronologically in accordance with Monet's many trips to France's rugged Normandy coast, and featuring a healthy mix of major and minor works, this 50-piece exhibition amounts to a quick but insightful examination of the painter's stylistic development. Famous works from the 1860s like "The Garden at Sainte-Adresse" and "Pointe de la Heve at Low Tide" illuminate the show's early chapter, in which Monet becomes infatuated with the sea and refines his ability to produce landscapes both fresh and dramatic. But it's not long until Monet's nascent Impressionism begins to emerge. By the 1880s, after marriage and many returns to the shore, his palette is growing more subtle and complex, and he's more intensely obsessed with water. One painting here, full of blue-green curlicues depicting crashing waves, verges on pure abstraction. But the most rewarding pieces are those that show Monet's devotion to capturing the transformative effects of light, shadow, and snow. The few precious selections from the Rouen cathedral and haystack series are enough to steal this already dazzling show. Through May 20 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350, -- Lewis

On a Pedestal and off the Wall -- The two-part title is a sign: This sculpture exhibition, juried by Cleveland artist Don Harvey, boasts a sharply split personality. The meatier, stronger half boldly pushes all sorts of relevant buttons. The second half, by contrast, is pure goofiness -- creative, technically accomplished froth. Guess which half Dietrich Wegner's "Bomber Boy" belongs to? Strapped to this realistic, life-sized figurine of a white, blond little boy is a pack of dynamite. A cherubic symbol of Western innocence transforms into a brainwashed harbinger of death straight from the war-torn Middle East. More than effective, the sculpture jams together opposing stereotypes, thereby evoking an almost painful degree of cognitive dissonance. No less powerful is Case Conover's "Match America." This 3-D map of the U.S., made of matchstick tips, eliminates blue states entirely, brilliantly portraying the entire country as one more-or-less monochromatic swath of red -- one that could, incidentally, burst into flames at the slightest provocation. The show's laid-back side is a zoo of zany contraptions and creatures, dazzling to the eye and playfully meaningless. Chief among them is J. Derek O'Brien's "Polli," a life-sized pig forged from cast-iron cookware. A pig made from pans used for frying bacon? How deliciously cyclical. But Mark VanFleet's "Tape Measure Ceiling" best bridges the gap between the exhibit's two sides: The video shows a group of men extending flimsy tape measures high into the air, allegorically taking the male obsession with length to humorous new heights. Through April 14 at the Sculpture Center, 1834 E. 123rd St., 216-229-6527, -- Lewis

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