Work by George Hunt, Erinn Cox, and Lauren Kalman.

Located somewhere between mortals and the gods, George Hunt's portraits of Southern soul at D'Edge Art include misguided devils, fieldhands who play the music of the spheres, and bruised Madonnas.

In Hunt's complex cosmology, Satan is a creature more heart-broken and impish than evil. In Red Devil Blues, Satan wears his heart on his sleeve. His right eye is dilated and huge. Primal energy coils like a snake from his lower torso and sways to the tunes this horned, baby-faced devil plays on his purple ukulele.

Many of Hunt's vivid, textured canvases combine wry humor with knowing nods to the masters. El-Roitan, The Man shows a grimacing, barefooted fieldhand whose neck and torso are an antique cigarette label seamlessly collaged onto the canvas. El-Roitan plays the music of his soul on a Greek lute surrounded by a Miro-like universe of dancing planets, insects, flowers, and stars.

The women of Hunt's work are as full of mojo, art history, and blues as the men. In Sister Madam Walker, an almond-shaped face combines the features of an African mask with those of a medieval Madonna. A sliver of pale moonlight cups her cheek. White cotton fabric collaged into a Sunday-best dress frames a face on which Hunt maps out life's passions and dark passages with a stunning mosaic of purples, mahoganies, and midnight blues.

At D'Edge Art through July 31th

In her installation, "Jewels," at Medicine Factory, Erinn Cox elicits intense visceral reactions and develops surprisingly rich metaphors with nine piles of dirt topped with small pieces of plaster painted with high-gloss enamel. Some of the plaster pieces are shaped like calcified kidneys or hearts. On other piles, the opalescent material clusters like pearls, suggesting that

click to enlarge from "Jewels" by Erinn Cox
  • from "Jewels" by Erinn Cox
life's irritants bring experience ("pearls of wisdom") as well as disease.

There are no hierarchies, no special powers or privileges here. Thick strands of human hair twist like earthworms aerating the soil. Hanging from the ceiling above each mound of dirt is a naked light bulb like one sees in a room used for interrogations or as a growth light. Both images fit. On June 7, 2004, Erinn Cox almost died. Since that time, she has explored her feelings regarding death and disease through memento mori that ask tough questions. Cox looks into nine piles of death/decay (a number connoting the end of a cycle) and finds optimal conditions for another round of life.

At Medicine Factory through June 29th

In Lauren Kalman's exhibition, "Dress Up Dress Down," also showing at Medicine Factory, a svelte figure floats in pure white light on a tiny LCD screen that dangles outside its casing, its circuitry exposed. At first glance, we wonder if Kalman has jerry-rigged us into some celestial realm. Up close, we realize the angel is the artist dressed in a white suit and swinging on a rope in an overexposed video titled Drop. We never see Kalman let go, but judging from the strain in her arms and the grimace on her face, her fall is imminent. Hanging by the Teeth finds the artist, dressed in the same silken suit, hanging by her teeth from another rope.

Rows of medicine bottles, frog skeletons, jaw bones, and jars used to hold biological specimens line up against Medicine Factory's walls. Far back in the gallery, Kalman imagines her own demise on a corroded mortuary table she welded to the dimensions of her body.

Look, really look, this artist seems to be saying, at the ideologies that drive you to excel, to climb some corporate or spiritual ladder. Death is inevitable. When you strive for perfection in a body subject to aging and disease and push yourself to the limits of endurance, you hasten your decline.

In another video, Kalman dramatically underscores her ideas by wrapping a skull around her genitalia with a long swatch of fabric. Rather than an affront, her measured movements, repeated again and again in a video loop projected onto one of Medicine Factory's scarred walls, become a meditation on Eros/Thanatos.

At Medicine Factory through June 29th

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