Upside Down and Inside Out 

Artists redefining the boundaries.

In her exhibition "Beth Edwards: Inside Out" at David Lusk Gallery, Edwards' saturate, surreal paintings take us deep inside memory and the creative process and, along the way, turn some of Baudrillard's postmodern notions inside out. Instead of viewing representations (what Baudrillard calls "simulacra") as perversions or pretenses of reality, Edwards welcomes all images as raw materials that feed her imagination.

All color schemes and combinations of high-and-low art are possible in Edwards' worlds. In Happy Day, an exuberant anthropomorphic mouse stands in front of an orange divan and plastic plant and looks at the painting of a human figure fractured by cubism. In Annunciation, a baby doll with a green face and orange hair stands in a royal-blue room looking out an open window. In Edward Hopper-like fashion, sunlight pours into the otherwise empty room creating a geometric pattern on the wall.

All of Edwards' art is filled with spirit and anointed with light. With the vintage dolls, cartoon characters, and modernist paintings of her mid-20th-century childhood, Edwards builds highly expressive worlds that suggest what is most "real" is unfettered memory and imagination.

"Beth Edwards: Inside Out" at David Lusk Gallery through September 29th

"NIA: Salon 3," Delta Axis @ Marshall Arts' current exhibition, showcases established artists and newcomers in an unsettling, exhilarating group show that depicts the world at a boiling point.

Frank D. Robinson's mesmerizing installation, Full Support, covers the entire back wall with 21st-century posters and paraphernalia. In the large mixed-media painting, Baby Jesus, Ron Herd creates a mosaic of the hopes/needs/fears that drive us all. Crowns, crosses, and doves are everywhere. Large transparent wings flank Christ's body. Red flames burn inside him, and his crucified feet cradle an ebony baby with an all-seeing eye.

click to enlarge Ron Herd's Baby Jesus
  • Ron Herd's Baby Jesus

A charred lump of clay, dressed in crudely stitched burlap, stands at the end of a road blown into rubble in Dail Chambers' mixed-media installation Crossroads. While Chambers records what happens when disparate points of view collide, Aundra McCoy's Spirit Dolls provides hope that the world's cultures and creeds might find a way to co-exist. McCoy's beaded and feathered fetishes are filled with spirit all-embracing and all-encompassing enough to weave Middle Eastern, Native-American, and African motifs into one exquisitely beautiful work of art.

"NIA: Salon 3" at Delta Axis @ Marshall Arts through September 29th

Two of the most cogent images in Jonathan McNabb's exhibition "New Works," at Eclectic Eye, take us inside a cathedral and an abandoned prison.

In the silver gelatin print, Notre Dame Cathedral, Christ still hangs on the cross near the ceiling but is almost lost in the shadows. Candles burn far below.

In Prison Interior, light pours through the crumbling walls and jail cells of an abandoned correctional institute, where pictures of family members, Hollywood stars, and comedians are still tacked to the walls. The sunlight pouring through empty jail cells brings to mind Christ's message — more powerfully than the shadowy scene of the crucifixion in a grand cathedral — of stones loosened, tombs emptied, and darkness pierced by light.

"Jonathan McNabb: New Works" at Eclectic Eye through October 3rd

Photo artist Ian Lemmonds is another artist who finds beauty and hope in unexpected places. Five out of eight prints in "Serial Monogamy," Lemmonds' current exhibition at L Ross Gallery, consist of piles of Barbie doll legs backdropped by various shades of monochromatic tiles. Light reflecting off the plastic and ceramic surfaces transforms the legs into glowing bouquets. The slender, long-stemmed shapes counterpoint the square tiles on which they lie. Lemmonds captures our attention with body parts placed in obscure settings. As we stand transfixed, searching for metaphor and meaning — is there something titillating, prurient, or brutish about these dismembered limbs? — he surprises us with an experience of beauty that means everything and nothing.

Another untitled print has a similar effect. Two minuscule human figures look at a huge luminous plastic rabbit materializing out of the floor. This is not the radioactive creature that ate New York. Instead, a father hoists his son onto his shoulders to better see the limpid-eyed creature embued with something like hope and the suggestion that beauty and wonder are all around us.

"Serial Monogamy" at L Ross Gallery through September 30th

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