Working It 

Four strong shows, four memorable pieces of art.

Showing at David Lusk Gallery is Dwayne Butcher's exhibit "The Genius Hasn't Killed Me Yet." Butcher, a self-described redneck, rabble-rouser, car thief, and painter/curator/activist/blogger/editor, covers a lot of ground in this multimedia exhibition. His rapid-fire, unabashedly honest poetry, passionately opinionated Top 10 lists, video syntheses of kitsch and fine art, and luminous paintings — as shiny and slick as the paint jobs on cars he stole as a youth — reveal a supercharged mind that moves in dozens of directions and an artist who finds beauty, irony, and pleasure in nearly every moment.

click to enlarge Dwayne Butcher's She Woke Me Up To Say She Charged by the Hour
  • Dwayne Butcher's She Woke Me Up To Say She Charged by the Hour

Among his videos is Truck Pool, showing the artist drinking beer and smoking stogies while listening to classical music and floating in a makeshift pool in the back of his pickup. Then there's his abstract painting She Woke Me Up To Say She Charged by the Hour, a work with thick, light-blue acrylic dripping into pale peach, like consciousness slowly moving into the light of dawn. Grids of black ink marks look architectural, like long barracks and lean skyscrapers. The dense black mesh also suggests window or door screens through which we glimpse endless stories in the big city.

There are no ink marks, no lines of narrative in Butcher's Soothes the Palette, a seamless work in which lavender morphs into an even paler peach. As always, you'll find a touch of Butcher's trademark irony — his most ethereal work is painted on a hinged, free-standing sandwich board instead of canvas.

click to enlarge Jana Joplin's Elaborate
  • Jana Joplin's Elaborate

Linda Disney's latest show, also at David Lusk, includes some of the best works of the artist's career. Her mastery of plein-air painting is especially apparent in View From the Bridge. Disney nails the scene of a river at sunset, not with the crisp-edged hues of photo-realism or the blurred approximations of impressionism. Instead, she records shadows within shadows to capture half-lights and afterglow as a crimson, then mauve, then lavender sunset is reflected in the slow-moving waters of a river and the foliage along the edge of its banks. Both Butcher's and Disney's shows are through May 30th

Perry Nicole's current show, "The May Exhibition," is a satisfying mix of Linda Cordner's lyrical floral abstractions, Ellen Fink's paintings of birds and butterflies, John Whipple's strikingly original mixed-media sculptures, and Lynn Whipple's darkly funny combinations of folk art, fairy tales, and photos of relatives several generations removed.

click to enlarge Lynn Whipple's Slightly Scary Sally
  • Lynn Whipple's Slightly Scary Sally

In the mixed-media painting Slightly Scary Sally, one of Lynn Whipple's ancestors looks haunted, hamstrung by rigid moral codes and class distinctions. The outline of a fine gown is drawn in graphite around Sally's gray woolen skirt and high lace boots. Her hair is pulled back into a tight bun. Dabs of white paint become a string of pearls; polka dots on translucent insect wings sprout from Sally's back. Two polka dots turn Sally's pupils into super-luminous, ghoulish eyes. Faint lines of graphite extend from her head and mouth like antennae, and her tongue coils, ready to snag the tiny gnat close to her face or to reach deep into a flower. Behind Sally's spartan facade, we glimpse, perhaps, a woman driven to distraction because she never got to taste the honey. Through May 30th

click to enlarge View From the Bridge, by Linda Disney: on view at David Lusk Gallery through May 30th
  • View From the Bridge, by Linda Disney: on view at David Lusk Gallery through May 30th

One of the most evocative works in "Bloom," Jana Joplin's current exhibition at Gallery 56, is the deep-purple, white-tipped iris, titled Elaborate. Painted up-close and at an angle, at first glance Elaborate looks like a full-figured, wasp-waisted can-can dancer kicking her leg high in the air, revealing layers of petticoats beneath her purple skirt. Set against an umber, almost ebony, background this brilliant flower (or dancer) is a striking metaphor for the fertile earth that nourishes, the brief moment of glory, for both plants and animals, and then the letting go. Through May 30th


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