On View

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

Undertow Cedar Lee Theater

Inanimate: Observations, Lectures, and Labor -- Each of the dozen objects in this heavily conceptual solo show points clearly to Cincinnati-based sculptor Paul Kochanowski's reverence for work. It's not so much the pieces themselves that are on display as it is the painstaking effort behind them. A broken milk crate only looks like plastic -- in fact, it was carefully forged out of bronze. Kochanowski accomplishes equally magical tricks with bronze boxes that resemble soggy cardboard, an aluminum egg carton you'd swear is pink Styrofoam, and a drawing that looks like a fairly cheap print. Were these things what they appear to be, they'd be garbage. Yet Kochanowski can rightly put them on pedestals in a gallery, because he's spent so much time on them, carefully endowing each with realistic imperfections. A metallic grid structure sprayed with 80 applications of paint makes the sad observation that too often we cover what is messy and individual with a blandly consistent surface. Through December 3 at the Sculpture Center, 1834 E. 123rd St., 216-229-6527, www.sculpturecenter.org. -- Zachary Lewis


Dukes and Angels -- This exhibition transports modern viewers to the court of Burgundy in the 14th and 15th centuries. Included are luxury objects belonging to the first Valois dukes of Burgundy, Philip the Bold and John the Fearless: portraits of the dukes, illuminated manuscripts (such as Aristotle's Ethics), crowns, stone sculptures, and devotional images. Though requiring a lot of reading and concentration, this exhibition inspires a sense of awe at the power and wealth the dukes wielded. Through January 9 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Boulevard, 216-421-7350, www.clevelandart.org. -- Tami Miller

Memory -- Featuring New York-based artists Judy Pfaff and Valerie Hammond, Memory is about nature and life. Pfaff juxtaposes images of nature and architecture, using the combined print techniques of photogravure, etching, and lithography. Her images read like a filmstrip within their frame, moving from the macro to the micro. Panoramic views of an Asian garden and its shrines are lined up with an image of a fern, followed by a scientific diagram of the same plant, creating a sense of continuum in life. Hammond collages plants and flowers within outlined shapes of friends' hands; her flowers and ferns create henna-like designs within their palms, fingers, and forearms. Hammond then dips the paper in a soft ivory wax; the built-up effect, with its soft colors and glowing layers, is ethereal and lovely. Through November 28 at M% Gallery, 12812 Larchmere Boulevard, 216-990-3349, www.Mpercent.com. -- 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 Avenue, 216-421-8671, www.MOCAcleveland.org. -- Miller

Nature Sublime: Landscapes From the Nineteenth Century -- On display are Japanese prints from the 1800s and paintings, drawings, and prints from France, England, Germany, and America, all of which capture the spirit of Romanticism. Witnessing the industrial revolution, these artists yearned for a simpler life close to nature and sought inspiration in landscapes. Simultaneously in France, prints from Edo, Japan (now Tokyo) were prized, and Western artists adopted Japanese compositional devices like asymmetry, the approach to perspective, and attention to decorative detail. The similarities are apparent in the colorful lithographic prints of Henri Rivière: Planes of color, rather than strokes or lines, describe landscapes, lending a cartoon quality to his and the Japanese prints. Edo was a city mostly of men; the samurai left the countryside for the pleasure district of Edo, because the firmly established authority of the shogun precluded armed rivalries, making the samurai virtually obsolete. The prints reflect this lifestyle, referred to as "Ukiyo-e," the floating world, and a life without any real foundation, depicting the transitory nature of life. Through November 14 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7340, www.clemusart.com. -- Chris Kelley

On the Wall. Off the Wall. In the Garden. -- Frank Brozman's latest steel sculptures, installed inside and outside Tremont's Atmosphere gallery, range in style from literal representations to abstract forms. Inside, pieces mounted on hammered copper sheets include a stainless-steel cityscape and an intimated window frame ("Window to the Soul") with metaphorical implications. The large outdoor works, a refreshing switch from typical gallery displays, include natural motifs such as overlapping collages of leaves and a strutting bird. Brozman's most stylistically consistent and aesthetically pleasing sculptures are the mounted swirls of tapered steel; their movement lends a complementary gracefulness to the simple forms. Through November 24 at Atmosphere, 2335 W 11th St., 216-685-9527. -- Miller

Parallel Lives -- The 13th Annual Women's Invitational features Gloria Plevin and Bonnie Dolin. Plevin's works -- in acrylic, pastels, and etchings -- are comforting. From a young girl reading to a dog on a porch at dusk to a family walking in the winter, Plevin's awkward, flat figures provide a sense of truthfulness to what might otherwise be overly idealized subjects. In contrast, Dolin's oil paintings are striking for their vibrant palette and sense of depth. Using a camera and computer to prepare her work, she paints tight flower arrangements with highly saturated color on contrasting white tabletops. Through November 21 at the Wasmer Gallery at Ursuline College, 2550 Lander Road, 440-646-8371. -- Miller

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