Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

Art Around Town

Exhibit: Cleveland -- Don't say art never did anything for you. Visit this neighborly little show at Wooltex, and you'll gain new respect for the power of a painting. The small exhibit includes 10 local artists, some of whom you may be familiar with. But that's only half of it. The rest of the show spills out onto Euclid Avenue and East Fourth Street -- where artists display their work in empty storefronts, exposing a passive public to their work and brightening up otherwise dreary spaces. The project just celebrated its first anniversary, so pardon the Wooltex component's relative slimness -- which nevertheless manages to cover a huge stylistic range. Michael Greenwald's magnificent untitled beachscape features a lake of luminous turquoise and dynamically dappled clouds. It's like a still from a time-lapse film. "Restrictions #4," by Damon Reaves, occupies another extreme: a black-and-gray drawing in acrylic and charcoal that serves up abstract energy in pure form. Stylistically, Patrick Haggerty's factory scene, "When the Whistle Blows," is somewhere in-between, a well-crafted study in geometric formalism with touches of Ashcan. It's just the thing to adorn a city struggling with its industrial past. Through July 13 at the Wooltex Gallery, 1900 Superior Ave., -- Zachary Lewis

Mirror Matter -- Stemming from the mind of Cleveland toy designer Olga Ziemska, this brilliant sculpture exhibition unifies art, literature, and nature. It reflects a profoundly artistic world where nature's patterns are the stuff of art and disciplines overlap. It's impossible to pinpoint where poetry ends and sculpture begins in "Octavio," the show's gem. Its wall of dangling letters spell out the poem "Sight and Touch" (by Mexican American literary giant Octavio Paz) in large, gray letters -- formed from crusty sodium crystals -- which hang in ceiling-high columns from a transparent line. Spinning slowly in place and catching the faintest air currents, they tend to mimic the text itself, physically resembling "light," "a living body," and "curtain." More beautifully, they compel viewers to read slowly and savor both the sight and sound of each word. But "Chiromancy Point" and "Akasha: A Collection of Accident and Circumstance" form the show's breathtaking and truly site-specific centerpiece. A large triangle made from countless mirror shards -- many of which contain an image of some organic or man-made pattern -- adorn the gallery's glass wall. The opposite wall features a paisley-print-shaped stream of glass pebbles, each of which also includes an image. Viewed from the proper perspective, the two pieces merge to form a massive three-dimensional landscape of wind blowing across a mountain. And to think, it's all based on the tiniest of artistic atoms. Through August 19 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, 8501 Carnegie Avenue, 216-421-8671. -- Lewis


Tell Me Something I Don¹t Know -- Anthropomorphism, the practice of ascribing human traits to inanimate objects, is the name of the game in this quirky but profoundly astute series of photos by Chicago-based conceptual artist Joel Ross. The objects in this case are bland cookie-cutter homes in a suburb of St. Louis. Ross gives the structures unique voices by planting in their yards (with the owners' consent) rows of handwritten signs spelling thoughts that people might have. Their range is truly human, from disappointment, fear, and embarrassment to pure goofiness. One drab, semi-neglected abode with patches of dead grass cries out -- appropriately, like the dumb kid in class -- "I think there's something wrong with my arm." Another home -- finer and more neatly manicured, featuring even rows of blue shutters -- belies its calm appearance with "Sometimes it feels like my brain is on fire." A third states, randomly and empty-headedly, "My bowling thumb is still sore." The beauty of these images is manifold. In one sense, they underscore and subtly fight back against the generic, nondescript subdevelopments ubiquitous throughout the United States. They're also deliciously subversive and prank-like, proclaiming private thoughts in a setting where public decorum is the rule. But even this is done in a friendly, innocent manner reminiscent of birth or graduation announcements. Finally, they're empathetic, evoking genuine concern for the people inside or simply plucking the heart strings like a sad clown. It's impossible, for instance, not to love a well-worn house declaring, "My intentions were good." Through June 24 at Raw & Co Gallery, 1009 Kenilworth Ave., 216-235-0635, -- Lewis

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