On View

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions

Twista Agora Theatre, 5000 Euclid Avenue 8 p.m. Saturday, May 15, $22.50 advance/$24 day of show, 216-241-5555
Rona Pondicks work can be seen at MOCA through - August 8. - Courtesy of Sonnabend Gallery
Courtesy of Sonnabend Gallery
Rona Pondicks work can be seen at MOCA through August 8.
Aging in America, The Years Ahead -- Being old doesn't necessarily mean living on the fringes of society, as this multimedia show proves. Ed Kashi's black-and-white photographs demonstrate, for example, that the Marlboro Man has nothing on the 75-year-old cowboys competing at the National Senior Pro Rodeo. A leather-jacketed senior biker chick gives meaning to the slogan "Life after 60." But Kashi's large-scale images also depict the harsher realities of aging, including the loss of independence conveyed by the photo of a man bathing his ailing father. Similarly, images from the Senior Olympics are juxtaposed with others from a prison's geriatric ward. Kashi and reporter Julie Winokur also produced a documentary that explores contemporary aging, and many of the images, along with the voices of the subjects and Winokur's narration, can be seen in Healthspace's computer lab or online at www.aging.msnbc.com. In an age when youth is revered, it seems refreshing and necessary to shed light on such an important part of the population. Through June 11 at Healthspace, 8911 Euclid Ave., 216-231-5010. -- Nadia Michel

Carmen Ruiz-Davila: Everywhere and Here -- Sex is the key to decoding Carmen Ruiz-Davila's large-scale, theatrical installations. What at first appears cryptic and cartoonish becomes crystal clear with the help of the backstory posted on the wall next to each piece. The flamboyant "Juana la Loca (Juana the Crazy)" features a black-and-white-tiled floor and giant castanets painted red with automotive paint and decorated with orange flames. Juana la Loca was a 15th-century Spanish queen who supposedly went mad because of her husband's sexual indiscretions. The bright red of this inflamed piece exudes the passion of the tale, while the castanets themselves recall a classic feminine symbol: the charming Spanish flamenco dancer. "La Mysterieuse Chambre Chinoise de Madame Wallis Simpson (The Mysterious Chinese Room of Madame Wallis Simpson)," a parody of Asian massage houses, is another feast for the eyes: A giant white spoon takes on the role of Jacuzzi bath, complete with bubbling water. Ornate wallpaper and small figurines give the setup an exotic flair. Looking into these installations is like embarking on a twisted adventure through the artist's fertile imagination. Through August 8 at MOCA, 8501 Carnegie Ave., 216-421-8671. -- Michel

Cleveland Institute of Art Student Summer Show -- From glasswork to digital graphics, abstract minimalism to what might be called "reality art," this show runs the gamut. But the highlight undoubtedly is photography. Brendan Beecy's Untitled Series digital prints are lit from behind, making the images of feet, arms, and faces seem to come to life. Smaller but no less intriguing is Lauren Gutierrez's Miss January: The American Burka Collection. The model, in a flesh-toned body stocking and a bleached-blond wig, poses in a perfect '70s pin-up style. Maybe it's the baby-bottle nipples masquerading as the real thing, or the exaggerated red lips and garish makeup, but the effect is convincing at first glance and hilarious upon a second look. Through July 30 at the Cleveland Institute of Art's Reinberger Galleries, 11141 East Blvd., 216-421-7407. -- Michel

Curve -- Hair pomade on the walls may sound like a scene from Barbershop gone bad, but Kori Newkirk thinks it's a good idea. His effort here is noteworthy; the results are less so. Giant fingerprints, composed of spots of pomade, are painted directly onto white walls, the result of days of work for Newkirk and his team of assistants. Reminiscent of fingerprinting, the work alludes to crime and racism; the goo itself is a reference to African-American culture, where local hair salons often play an important social role. The issue of identity is at the forefront: There's nothing more unique than an individual's fingerprints. Newkirk's exploration of unconventional media gives new meaning to the phrase "The medium is the message." The downfall of that idea is that one must read the adjacent label to know the "paint" is actually hair product. And without knowing, the work takes on a sort of unidimensional aspect. After all, any common criminal -- or artist, for that matter -- can leave fingerprints on a wall. Through May 23 at MOCA, 8501 Carnegie Ave., 216-421-8671. -- Michel

Garry Fabian Miller Photographs -- Is it really a photograph if a camera is not involved? Surprisingly, yes. British photographer Garry Fabian Miller's dye-destruction prints rely on a photographic technique employed in the 19th century, before the camera was invented. In an antiquated procedure, Miller passes light through filters and cylinders of colored water onto prepared paper. The effect is fantastic. Minimal forms infused with glowing white light radiate from the paper, much as Mark Rothko's color-field forms radiated from their canvases in the 1950s and '60s. Although less warm than Rothko's paintings, the prints are captivating; the viewer is drawn in by the entrancing light, as if trying to see into the center of the sun. Through July 22 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7340. -- Tami Miller

International Appeal: AAWR Members Exhibition -- Seventy local artists were asked to create works reflecting life in the U.S., suitable for display in an American embassy. Some followed the instructions to a T. Phyllis Fannin's "Homestyle" is an elaborate collage in the shape of the U.S., a charming homage to each state's claim to fame. (The Cleveland skyline fills Ohio.) Herb Ascherman's "Times Square. January 29th, 2004. Zero Degrees," a black-and-white photograph, is a somewhat clichéd representation of one of the U.S.'s most recognizable places, yet undeniably appropriate. "Flickering Orange," oil and acrylic on canvas by Carl Krabill, is more abstract, reminiscent of North America's autumnal colors. Others, however, interpreted the challenge more loosely. Bonnie Dolin's "Still Life, PS, # 1," a brilliantly colored assortment of still-life flowers, would light up an embassy wall, but fails to conjure anything uniquely American. Through June 4 at Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, 1834 E. 123rd St., 216-721-9020. -- Michel

Kari Russell-Pool -- Russell-Pool's colorful, lace-like glass sculptures look as if they might easily dissolve in the mouth. Sorbet-colored works with names such as "Raspberry Cup" and "Cinnamon Peach" feature tiny, intricate flowers, leaves, and fruits formed by heating pencil-sized rods of glass and weaving them with tweezers. The pieces in her Teapot series may be far from functional, with fragile, flowery walls, but the fantastical vessels nonetheless convey the sensual pleasure of tea. "Pink Vessel with Birds" and "Robin Trophy" are two of four collaborative works that include a bird nestled among the flowers or perched in place of a stem on a purely ornamental vase. Despite their complexity, all 14 pieces on display are light, inspired by and evocative of summer. Kari Russell-Pool's signature style is pretty and delicate, a standout in the world of glass. Also, don't miss the gallery's extensive collection of glasswork by other artists. Through June 20 at Thomas R. Riley Galleries, 2026 Murray Hill Rd., 216-421-1445. -- Michel

Kathleen Hammett: Recent Paintings -- Kathleen Hammett's large-scale canvases would fit perfectly in an upscale living room, circa 1985. Bright, primary colors recur in this series, along with geometric shapes and visible paint-roller marks. "Hoopie's View" has rivers of popping blues and yellows colliding in a center. "Shadow Box" (60 inches by 48 inches) offers a more soothing sight, with muted grays and blues. Hammett's layering and composing are impressive, but the effect is reminiscent of those multi-million-dollar minimalist paintings of things like a red circle on a white background -- a '60s style that left many wondering what is and isn't art. Her work is certainly more elaborate, but there is a brashness in it that seems out of date. Then again, the '80s are back in pop culture, and Hammetts and big hair go hand-in-hand. Through May 29 at Bonfoey Gallery, 1720 Euclid Ave., 216-621-0178. -- Michel

Kelly McLane: My Blue-Green Algae -- Nature's raw power is beautifully rendered in McLane's large-scale graphite-and-acrylic paintings. "Soon on Me," placed at the entrance to a small room dedicated to her work, is the catalyst in a narrative that develops through four images. A tsunami soars over a city, tearing down a bridge in its furor. "Survivor" depicts a lone house drifting, attached to the mainland by cables and afloat thanks to numerous rubber tires strewn about its structure. McLane's watered-down aquas and transparent oranges give the devastation a lightness, perhaps indicating admiration for the planet's ability to transform. As the show's title suggests, the artist is interested in blue-green algae (aka cyanobacteria), believed to have been among the world's first living organisms. Six small figurative graphite drawings show another facet of McLane's original and finely executed vision. "You Pissed Your Pants" and "Hunting Season," for example, showcase emotionally defining moments in children's lives. Through August 22 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7340. -- Michel

Modern American Masters: Highlights From the Gill and Tommy LiPuma Collection -- Native Clevelander Tommy LiPuma's eye for art rivals his ear for music. Nominated for 30 Grammys, the renowned producer also cultivated an in-depth knowledge of modern American art, his passion for which is reflected in the 24 works on display. It's an overview of what LiPuma considers to be the best by American modernists from the early 20th century. Indeed, paintings by Marsden Hartley, Arnold Friedman, Arthur Dove, John Marin, and John Graham -- all underappreciated gems -- are perfect examples of how the use of pure, luminous color and intense texture revolutionized the art world and spawned abstract expressionism. A fine initiation to underexposed American talent, the show also highlights the pleasure art can provide for people from all walks of life. Also on view, Burchfield to Schreckengost: Cleveland Art of the Jazz Age (through July 18), a celebration of rarely seen works by other Clevelanders who give the city a good name. Though July 28 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350. -- Michel

Rona Pondick: Recent Work -- Futuristic, genetically modified creatures collide with mythology in Rona Pondick's impressive and disturbing work. Scattered about the gallery floor are stainless steel curiosities like "Dog," a human-headed canine figure, and "Monkeys," a tangled grouping of primates with humanlike heads or arms. The bodies shine like liquid mercury, while the human parts have a matte finish. The sophistication of Pondick's technique further boggles the mind: The artist cast her own head and body parts and used 3-D computer scanning to reproduce and scale down the molds. "Monkey With Hair" features Pondick's face on a monkey's body that is covered with synthetic fur. Eerily thought-provoking, Pondick's body of work is also decidedly elegant. Through August 8 at MOCA, 8501 Carnegie Ave., 216-421-8671. -- Michel

Senenkunya: Many Voices, One Family -- Everyday objects displayed in their cultural context create an intimate portrait of life in West Africa. Photographs by Peggy Turbett (photo editor for The Plain Dealer) document her visit to Mali in 2002: Colorful rituals and the daily tasks of women are pictured in vibrant, large-scale images, revealing an alternative West African reality that has nothing to do with war or poverty. On the main floor, artifacts are displayed alongside life-sized reproductions of village homes and other structures. Among the highlights: the Toga, a decision-making area with a low ceiling that forces village men to sit down, thus eliminating height inequalities that might upset the balance of power. Another realistic scene is a market cart, strewn with hanging fruit and resting alongside the facade of a 13th-century mud mosque. In this way, utilitarian objects take on resounding new life as art. It's an engaging, hugely enlightening experience. Through August 29 at the Museum of Natural History, 1 Wade Oval Dr., 216-231-4600. -- Michel

Small Monuments -- The word "monument" conjures images of the Taj Mahal or the Statue of Liberty. This inaugural exhibit at MOCA's Sky Lounge delivers on the "small," but not much else. Small-format paintings and drawings are meant to examine the relationship between monuments and public and private space. The title seems far-fetched for this selection of works, which have little to do with the subject or each other. Charles Kanswisher's Real Estate Drawings -- graphite replicas of houses based on photographs of real estate -- depict typical Ohio architecture and vacant land. Problem is, the homes don't look old enough to be considered monuments; nor are they particularly remarkable. Only Christine Kuper's abstract-meets-representational urban landscapes might fit the bill: Her paintings are both aesthetically pleasing and reminiscent of interesting locations. Sky Lounge is 95 linear feet of wall space on MOCA's mezzanine level, dedicated to showcasing emerging local artists. It's an exciting new space; sadly, its inaugural exhibit can't match its appeal. Through May 23 at MOCA, 8501 Carnegie Ave., 216-421-8671. -- Michel

Spring Fling With Don King -- Swirling psychedelic colors abound in the work of Don King, whose untitled abstract paintings create a groovy virtual-disco paradise in the gallery's back room and main exhibition space. King's musical inspiration is evident in the rhythmic lines, spirals, and metallic colors. One standout is the nine-piece "Jacket Series": 24-inch patterned squares are displayed a few inches apart, in a grid-like grouping inspired by LP covers. Four-panel screens offer a different way of displaying King's eye-popping musings. (His work ranges from large pieces priced between $225 and $1,400 to small journals priced from $25 to $35.) Complementing King's artificiality are the works of Davis Szekeres and Gisela Towner, on view in the gallery's front room. Both are inspired by real landscapes, particularly Lake Erie's shoreline: Szekeres' "Erie Violence" shows a storm wave crashing at Edgewater Park. In Towner's "Breakwall," a sailboat drifts into a sunset. The two artists have similar realist styles. Paradise's show is well balanced and showcases budding talents from both ends of the artistic spectrum. Through May 22 at Paradise Gallery, 2199 Lee Rd., 216-554-5548. -- Michel

The Unspoken -- The works of local artist Brenda Stumpf and Pittsburgh resident Joshua Hogan hang side by side and converge, resulting in a show of earthy tones, colors, and textures. Stumpf's found-object and oil abstract compositions sometimes evoke familiar shapes, as a psychiatrist's inkblots would do. Old pieces of a dismembered piano are grouped with nuts, bolts, and sand on a wooden panel, then covered in beiges and browns to look like natural protrusions on nondescript texturized backgrounds. Hogan's slightly more sienna palette is similarly organic: oil paintings featuring splashes of black to indicate movement or abstract figures. The artists have similar styles, achieved through different techniques. Together, they create 16 collaborative works that highlight the similarities and differences in their genres. Two-foot-by-one-foot wood panels are split in two or three complementary parts, each artist using only the space designated. Even when the separation is clear, the series seems to come from one mind: Stumpf's raised surfaces balance Hogan's deep, dark detail. Through May 28 at Mosaic -- the Gallery, 16860 Lorain Ave., 216-252-2099. -- Michel

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