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Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions. 


Carroll Dunham Prints: A Survey New York painter Carroll Dunham's first foray into printmaking was back in the mid-'80s, and he's kept at it ever since. This exhibition presents more than 100 of those prints and demonstrates the range of processes (lithography, screen-printing, wood engraving, etching), along with morphing styles, he's played with over the years. Curiously, with their labor-intensive layering and underlying grotesque themes, Dunham's prints from 1985 seem more up-to-date than those from 2005. The ambiguous biomorphic forms in "Accelerator" are encapsulated within tornadic lines and billowing gray-scale tones. "The Shadows" series of prints from 1989 features extensively detailed repugnant masses, reminiscent of oozing genitalia (hence the sign outside the gallery entrance warning that some material may not be suitable for younger audiences), along with hair and clawlike fingernails. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Dunham limited his visual vocabulary, creating hard-edged geometric abstractions as well as series portraying cartoon-inspired figures with thick black lines and bright, flat colors. In "Deranged Characters," Dunham depicts male and female bodies with suggestive protrusions and cavities, which lock together like puzzle pieces. Some of his most recent works feature a recurring character in a suit and stovepipe hat, with a trumpet-shaped penis for a nose. This goofy figure lacks stereotypically masculine characteristics of power; instead, he comes across as flaccid and passive. Through March 23 in the Ripin Gallery at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, 87 North Main Street, Oberlin, 440-775-8665. — Theresa Bembnister


Curious Terrain Landscape is as much about creating a mood as setting a scene, as demonstrated by three Ohio artists in this exhibition. JenMarie's dark washes of muted color cover gloomy, atmospheric canvases with barely discernible horizon lines or minuscule patches of rocky grass. It's landscape as a metaphor for hopelessness and loss, and the painting's titles, such as "Hanging in the Wait of Fading Echoes, yet I Only Dream of You," read as though they were gleaned from the liner notes of an emo album. Robert Robbins' charcoal drawings on brightly tinted, gessoed paper depict quiet winter forest scenes. The subtle play of lights and darks on the paper's textured surface capture the still, barren quality of snow-covered trees this time of year. But ultimately, the show rides on the strength of Randall Tiedman's work, the most original and thought-provoking in the exhibition. Tiedman dubs his landscapes "inscapes," because they are imagined scenes — sprawling, nighttime cityscapes, pictured from a vantage point far above the streetlights that cast a dull yellow glow on the craggy terrain below. Step back, and the details disappear, dissolving into shifting planes of tint and hue, and balancing each other in a way Tiedman likens to the harmonies of classical music. Through March 8 at the Cleveland State University Art Gallery, 2307 Chester Ave., Cleveland, 216-687-2103, — Bembnister

Phenomena(l) You might expect screens aglow with computer-based artwork in a science-themed show. But thankfully, this exhibition avoids that pitfall. Instead, it features work by 13 national artists in a variety of media — both low- and high-tech — that explores the overlapping territories of art and science. References to biology and genealogy — DNA strands, multiplying cells, epidermis — are on view, alongside vaguely futuristic, mechanized contraptions with oblique functions. And the most intriguing works manage to tie the colder, more studied elements of science to an emotional experience. In Christa Donner's ink and acrylic drawings on cut paper, naked little girls with mops of curly hair crawl from the open midsection of a reclining female figure. It's a curiously grotesque take on human reproduction. "Teraton Necklace," Nancy Bowen's opulent, oversize jewelry piece, made from glass, ceramic, and steel interspersed with tufts of hair, is inspired by teratoma, a type of tumor filled with hair, bone, or skin tissue. It's simultaneously disgusting and fascinating. Erica Duffy's efficient-looking machines slice through a thin sheet of latex that looks eerily similar to human skin. But the blade reacts to the vibrations generated from viewers, calling attention to our own responsibility for the consequences of scientific exploration. Through March 7 at Spaces, 2220 Superior Viaduct, Cleveland, 216-621-2314, — Bembnister

Tower Press Artists The Wooltex building is a happening place: For proof, see this group exhibition featuring some of the many artists who live or operate studios there. While some pieces may leave you cold, others will drop your jaw. First among the jaw-droppers is Bruce Biro's "Beget." Like a Moebius strip, this knotted sandstone cylinder appears to loop back into itself, forever beginning where it ends. But the medium matters more. Biro cut the stone to highlight its elegant, woodlike grain and buffed it smooth, making it seem breathtakingly lighter-than-air, despite its immense weight. Joshua Cole has fun manipulating expectations with "Coffee, Ketchup, Coffee." In between two dainty, flower-bedecked coffee cups made from white glass sits a ketchup squeeze bottle — ridiculously, also made of glass. Cole is defying practicality, snubbing his nose at high-class dinnerware. By not working, it works. But Christopher Stofan's "Into the Storm" will stop you in your snowy tracks. Great smears of white and gray sweep across the canvas in chaotic disarray, while a small figure stands alone in the distance, facing the wind. Maybe it's Byron, the great Romantic poet, braving the elements. Better yet, this visceral scene could represent any one of us, our souls and sanity being tested in these cold times. Through March 7 at The Wooltex Gallery, 1900 Superior Ave., Cleveland, — Zachary Lewis

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