In order to access "On Others," the current exhibition at Rhodes' Clough-Hanson Gallery, you must first get past two seven-foot-tall sentinels made by Steven Thompson. One, Aegis of the Green and Bold Cooperative, is a vision of patriotic, nationalistic impulses gone terribly awry. A leather hood and robe obscure Aegis' face and body. Attached to his sewn-up eye sockets are long leather thongs that hang down and wrap around the figure's arms. This sightless, endlessly looping, relentlessly self-absorbed sentinel suggests that getting past habitual thinking and embracing others' points of view are not easy tasks.
Melody Owen echoes this notion in her video installations. Instead of roaring, Owen's version of a Hollywood trademark, MGM Lion, hiccups a series of art nouveau baubles. These brightly colored, quickly dissappearing hiccups read like droll commentary on formula movies spit out by Hollywood during the 1950s.
From the back of the gallery we hear pervasive, undulating sounds. This chorus comes from 22 tiny speakers Greg Pond has placed in an aluminum web that supports dead branches and artificial flowers for a piece titled Sugar Candy Mountain: The Final Resting Place for the Soul of Saint T. Poignantly and fittingly, Saint T, in part, probably refers to the 16th-century mystic Saint Teresa, whose beautiful descriptions of mystical experience have helped others access a more passionate spirituality.
Jack Dingo Ryan explores the full spectrum of awareness with Kaczynski Monument (graphite on mylar). In Ryan's psychological portrait of the Unabomber, lines of energy rush across a blank landscape toward the viewer and an owl appears to grow out of the top of Kaczynski's head. In this spare, skilled drawing, the surreal looks real, and Ryan captures the intense certainty, focused energy, and single-mindedness of obsession. Skull Shelf broaches the ineffable as Ryan considers whether death is a dead-end or an all-embracing awareness.
Know-how and a passion for life are present in Patrick DeGuira's Precarious Stack, a mixed-media assemblage in which 20 tea cups are stacked end-to-end on top of a red-bound copy of The Joy of Sex, which in turn sits on a small white folding chair. Social interactions, including tea parties and sexual relations, are balancing acts, DeGuira seems to be saying.
DeGuira explores another example of conscious living with Life Flower, a mixed-media installation which fills the 11-by-14-foot gallery within a gallery inside Clough-Hanson. Here DeGuira pumps chirping bird sounds and covers the floor with faded paper grass. Just as faded is the large photograph of a man about to cut into his shoulder-length white hair. He's pushing 60, and the plastic love beads he may have worn in the 1960s stream like tears down both sides of his face. There is no bitterness, no irony in his stoic expression, just resignation -- perhaps because the challenges we face now are so different from the transcendence we believed was just within reach some 40 years ago.
"On Others" is a trip -- covering the ground of death, delusion, disappointment, sex, and patriotism. These artists have put together a nearly seamless meditation on the mind and its foibles, taking you about as deep into consciousness as you are willing to go.
Through December 7th