On View

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

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Capturing Cleveland: Pages from a City Sketchbook -- The 200-plus works in various media by 21 Cleveland Institute of Art students all portray Cleveland scenery. Although their subjects are easily recognizable, providing opportunities to reminisce, most of the works are mere surface studies, lacking tangible mood and depth. Among the exceptions are Sarah Laing's digital prints of the decaying interiors of abandoned steel-mill offices, with their peeling paint and empty desk drawers; the images create a palpable sense of forlornness. Ben Dewey goes beyond exterior facades as well, in his exuberant, colorful portraits of people on the West Side. Christi Burchfield's charcoals of Tremont are also strong, their soft lines appealing to any city dweller who's ever loved architecture. The works on view will be compiled into a sketchbook for sale. Through July 31 at SPACES, 2220 Superior Viaduct, 216-621-2314. -- Tami Miller

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. -- Nadia Michel

Clarence Carter: The Unknown Snapshot Studies -- Carter's oil and watercolor paintings are almost all close reproductions of photographs he took. The snapshots, most taken in the 1930s and '40s, were discovered among the late artist's belongings; here, 148 such pictures are paired with 21 works they inspired, lending a documentary air to the display. "The Good Crop," a 1942 painting featuring a man driving his potato crop to the market, is nearly identical to an undated Carter photo; only the perspective is different. Carter never mentioned these pictures, so seeing the evidence is like being let in on a secret. Through September 18 at the Cleveland Artists Foundation, 17801 Detroit Ave., 216-227-9507. -- 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 pinup 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

Closet Space -- Kent-based installation artist and instructor Kim Eggleston-Kraus re-creates domestic closets from her childhood and adult life in an attempt to recapture the memories they held. Aesthetically, her closets are just as mundane as anybody else's; shoddy doors lead to compact spaces loaded with clothing, board games, wrapping paper, and storage bins. The closets are oddly isolated within the gallery space, lacking the usual domestic accoutrements. The success of Eggleston-Kraus's closets lies in their interactive component. By looking, touching, and prodding, the viewer is rewarded with discovery. These portals may be walked and climbed through, creating tension between the desire for adventure and the fear of appearing foolish. Eggleston-Kraus's closets represent an attempt to break down the fine-art concept of not touching, in order to stimulate a return to a time when one didn't know better. They achieve this -- but only with a willing participant. Through July 9 at the Sculpture Center, 1834 E. 123rd St., 216-229-6527 -- Miller

Daring Decade: Women in the 1920s -- After WWI, American girls wanted to be more independent; simply constructed, loose-fitting, low-waisted evening dresses made it easy to foxtrot 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. -- 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. -- Miller

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

Making Art Work -- Four local artists are featured in this diverse show. Suzanne Gilbert's background as a fashion illustrator translates into large paintings that include fun, feminine, and highly stylized portraits of women. Her oversized close-up renditions of flowers are equally striking and provide a stark contrast to Bonnie Dolin's more classic still-life flowers and fruit. Dolin also has a penchant for cityscapes with a historical feel; "Truck Dock" shows parked cars, streetlights, and a cloudy night sky, all painted in dense, opaque oil on canvas. Elise A. Newman's series of soft, textured paper, some handmade, is unique and appears thoroughly modern in Plexiglas-covered frames. She uses embossing, collage, and even embroidery to achieve pastel-colored images such as "Ancient Walls of Greece." Brock Winans's minimalist steel sculptures are scattered on the floor throughout the exhibition space. Through July 11 at the Audrey and Harvey Feinberg Art Gallery, Cain Park (Lee and Superior rds.), 216-371-3000. -- Michel

Metro II -- M% gallery's annual show features regional artists. Kathy Lynn's nebulous forms and murky backgrounds on canvas seem personal and contemplative. Recent CIA grad Anne Kibbe furthers Lynn's mood in a series of intaglio prints that lack intense color or definable form, lending an introspective nature that's minimal from afar, tumultuous up close. In contrast, Rita Montlack's hand-painted and vibrantly inked photographs of Cleveland provide a cool-edged release. By juxtaposing and rotating an image four times, Montlack creates a visual puzzle that is superficially entertaining. Through September 2 at M% gallery, 12812 Larchmere Blvd. -- Miller

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

Painting 2004 -- This show features four paintings each from three artists, none of whom is likely to be mistaken for the others. Yong Han employs the same blue-black and white palette in all three versions of "Study Painting for the Nocturnal Landscape Sequence." The dark color swirls all over a masonite board, with various lines of movement and areas where the paint looks as if it had been rubbed off. Artemis Herber's urban-inspired work takes seemingly lifeless subjects (such as "Parking Lot" and "Freeway") and makes them playful and almost organic. The highlight is Matthew Kolodziej's work, with its abstract use of architecture and landscape. His paintings are just complex enough to balance the lack of clear meaning. Through August 6 at Heights Arts, 2173 Lee Rd., 216-371-3457. -- Michel

The Quilts of Gee's Bend -- Stitched together from old dress tails, work pants, and other scraps, the quilts of Gee's Bend were made out of necessity. They are the product of four generations of women in Arkansas who, through quilting, created a community. Against the stark white walls of the museum, the quilts hold their own as radiant artistic objects. Irregular shapes are intricately mixed with varying patterns of color, fabric, and stitching. The resulting richness and cohesion of abstract forms and hues make it difficult to imagine the quilts anywhere but in a museum. Though never so intended, the quilts challenge notions of beauty, wealth, tradition, and knowledge. Through September 12 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7340. -- Miller

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

The Usual Suspects -- After a yearlong sabbatical, Buzz Gallery is showcasing artwork by its diligent staff -- a group of young artists dedicated to offering Clevelanders a vibrant art scene and affordable works with price tags as low as $10. Brian Kelly has created graphic, stylized prints whose swirling text appears softly lyrical until closer inspection reveals its sardonic undertones, as in the print titled "This is me . . . making the best out of a bad situation." Colin Toke's black-and-white prints "Pin Head," "King Lord Rite," and "King Lonely Left" portray oddly charming figures reminiscent of Tim Burton characters. Bridget Ginley's pastel-colored abstract paintings remain lighthearted. All of the artists are still refining their style, lending a gritty quality to their final product. Artwork by the budding artists will be on view for budding collectors through July 30 at Buzz Gallery, 1836 W. 25th St., Suite B, 216-522-1836. -- Miller

Valley of Fire: Photographs from the Nevada Desert -- With 12 images that capture scenes of wind-carved rock formations and a cattle ranch, Cleveland photographer Jim Metrisin leads an ethereal journey through the rocky, mysterious Nevada desert. "Spring Mountain Ranch" has a particularly dream-like quality, with grazing animals set behind large trees with white leaves -- white because Metrisin uses high-speed black-and-white infrared film, which captures the infrared radiation reflected by the trees. The film also captures some ultraviolet radiation and all wavelengths of blue, resulting in grainy detail and high contrast. The sky of "Atlati Rock," an image of a rock formation full of grooves and holes, is filled with stringy, almost cartoonish clouds. "Petroglyph" shows cryptic spirals drawn on a rock's flat surface. The images suggest that while both nature and man have shaped this land over thousands of years, it remains pristine. Metrisin's technique powerfully conveys the awe-inspiring desert experience. Through August 7 at ArtMetro, 530 Euclid Ave., Suite 43, 216-696-1942. -- Michel

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