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PURPOSEFULLY OFFHANDED Hastings’s Forest Floor #20 (Joni Mitchell).

Two years ago I wrote that someone needs to put together a big local survey of Xander Marro's art. As far as I can tell it still hasn't happened. So while we continue waiting, check out what she's been up to lately in the "New Mythologies," a show of (mostly) candy-colored but prickly pop art at Candita Clayton Studio (999 Main Street, unit 105, Pawtucket, through May 20).

Needless to say, her girly Victorian psychedelic puppet dioramas are some of the best art being made in Providence today. If you don't believe me, check out the Dirt Palace co-founder's appearance in the Museum of Modern Art's Modern Women, a giant 2010 catalogue of all the great women artists of the past century (or something). Or believe your eyes.

Some dioramas are fronted with boards painted like visionary TV test patterns and drilled with holes. Peek inside and you see a couple of bears standing in white shag carpet snow or two snake marionettes at a table drinking soda. Other dioramas are set in oozing castle caves and lit by Christmas lights. One features a line of dancing naked lady-horse marionettes. Donkey With an Updo Bearing the Weight of the World presents a donkey carrying a bone necklace and a tin star. The dioramas play original songs when you push buttons on the front. The donkey one includes the mordantly funny lyric: "I fix my hair and wear it high, perfect nails, the apocalypse is nigh." They feel like otherworldly children's television and psychedelic anxiety dreams, grounded by handcraft and humanism.

Many of Corey Grayhorse's wicked staged photos here will be familiar to people who saw her recent exhibits at AS220 and West Side Arts. Eskimo Sisters (the women behind the local gallery? or slang for two women who have slept with the same person?) shows a pair of ladies in party dresses giving hard stares at the camera as a dog sitting between them bares its teeth. At times the scenarios feel too predictably goth, as in a photo of a sweet little girl sitting reading a book as a giant monster bunny, with fangs and claws, lurks behind her. The best ones are gonzo, saccharine, sexy, funny photos in the territory between fashion ads and sordid dreams.

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SORDID DREAM Grayhorse’s Eskimo Sisters.

Andrew Moon Bain's paintings live or die on the charisma of his decoratively patterned compositions. When they're sharp, like a drawing of a house radiating a rainbow into a sky filled with swirly line clouds, they're a catchy mix of mod cartoony design and stumbling realism. David Allyn decorates fancy high fire porcelains with clip art gags that can feel too easy, too gimmicky, like a picture of the first President Bush and Saddam Hussein smiling on either side of a gas pump with a crown on top. They're better as they get subtler, like a vase featuring an image of sepia mills sprouting wind turbines and, from the chimney, roses.

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