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May 1999, Volume 2, Number 1


Michael Lucero, Cheryl Laemmle at R. Duane Reed
Cheryl Laemmle's paintings of circus animals are OK, but Michael Lucero's gaudy ceramic totems go off the deep end. They're lurid, funny, grotesque, pretty, hideous, and undeniably odd. I still like the bronze pieces he showed in New York about a decade ago better than anything else he's done, but these are pretty swell, too. -AW

Charles Ray at Museum of Contemporary Art
Ok, so maybe it's a little hard at first to concentrate on formal relationships between objects in space when you're looking at a group of eight fairly realistic replicas of Charles Ray engaged in group sex. But it's those formal relationships (rather than the sexual ones) that give this work its staying power, a point this show-with its selection of works spanning Ray's entire career-makes well. -AW

Ellen Lanyon at Jean Albano
I've always been somewhat interested, and rather frustrated, by Ellen Lanyon's paintings, due in no small part to the fact that people keep comparing my work to hers (because we both paint animals, I guess). Her subjects tend to be interesting (often animals; mysterious scientific contraptions in this show); her painting technique frustrating. Lanyon favors thin, washy paint, and I still can't quite figure out why. -AW

Vera Klement at Fassbender Gallery
Explosion; Fourth Reel; Painting as Expressionist CinemaScope meets experimental film. An artist who continually demonstrates the emotional weight of white space and doesn't loose sleep for using a washtub for symbolism.-JB

John Fraser at NIU Art Gallery, DeKalb
Implosion; Wax on, Wax off; Painter as Sculptor/Sculptor as Painter. Ten years of obsessions with wood, paper, metal, and light that twist the banal in on itself to uncover unusual meditations and make us ask what would have happened if Rothko and Newman had not thrown away their Manila envelopes. -JB

Tabula Non Rasa at I Space
Shock Wave; Surfs Up! Three mid-career artists-Dan Devening, Brian Sikes, Amy Yoes-ride the long ripples of Modernism like hard-core surfers trying to get the most response from new boards as they search for the "perfect wave" and spiritual fulfillment. -JB