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JAUNTY A painting by Waldron-Taylor.

Jon Laustsen's new Lilliputian-scaled sculpture is a shack made of wooden shipping pallets precariously balanced atop a stack of more shipping pallets and a familiar real estate yard sale sign rejiggered to read "21st Century/For Sale."

Laustsen's sculptures are usually mysterious miniature construction sites, seemingly inspired as much by the redevelopment of Providence as Minimalism, but in the group show "Traces: Persistent & Fleeting" at AS220's Pop-Up Gallery (231 Westminster Street, through June 15), that for sale sign turns this sculpture into a political cartoon — and a sharp one. It suggests a nation shakily trying to rebuild out of the scraps and ruins of the real estate market collapse. And Laustsen's usual dollhouse scale here perhaps speaks of the way the financial industry treated people's homes — and ultimately their lives — as if they were little more than playthings.

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LILLIPUTIAN Lausten’s Passing Through (pallet shack).
Another Laustsen sculpture, Passing Through (pallet shack), features miniature ladders and scaffolding precariously climbing up the side of an actual-sized slab of sheetrock wall. At the top, a miniature shack assembled from shipping pallets teeters atop a foundation of cinder blocks and beams resembling railroad crossties. Snaking through the shack's doors is an S-curve of wood framing, perhaps like the forms for pouring concrete, but resembling a section of train track. What stands out here is the tiny makeshift shack perched so high above the ground like a hobo skyscraper — perhaps for safety, but reading more like hubris.

As a whole, this group show feels like a sampler. Jacqueline Ott presents her familiar drawings of kaleidescoping patterns of whirling pinwheels. Lisa Perez offers her quirky, small abstract wall pieces that seem designed for a midcentury modern Dr. Seuss house. A standout piece is a small table with a not-quite-square top set on three spindly legs that make it seem ready to collapse. On top is a sheet of plywood painted gray at the end, folded up and propped open with a fluorescent orange stick. Everything is charismatically odd and individual and so thoughtfully, precisely placed, right down the burst of color in that orange stick. Leigh Waldron-Taylor displays a selection of tiny, sketchy, jaunty, glam abstract paintings with glitter plus checkered and polka dot patterns. The six-painting group Die Entscheidung ist endgültig (the title is German for "the decision is final") offers three top panels, each decorated with a cockeyed black square. The three lower panels feature groups of black blobs or cartoon speech bubbles. It's the sharpest work of the bunch because the crisp design.

The diminutive scale employed by most of these talented artists is purposeful, but at times it feels like there's not enough ambition. Imagine the added charge if Laustsen began building some of these rickety shacks at life-size and they threatened to topple onto us. Or if Perez furnished a whole room with her idiosyncratic décor. Instead of simply observing their visions, we could be immersed in them.

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REVELRY Halper’s Note To Self.

At Craftland (235 Westminster Street, through June 16), Kathy Halper's "POS (Parents Over Shoulder)" indulges in the deliciously wanton sex, drunkenness, and partying of Facebook photos. She pairs found photos and texts into embroideries, such as a close-up of a topless guy snuggled between two women above the caption: "I can only imagine the horrible things my future wife is doing on spring break right now." Or a guy embracing two women: "Am I a whore if I make out with a boy just so michelle can't?" Or three women getting happily drunk: "Note to self . . . there is such a thing as having too many birthday shots."

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  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Jon Laustsen, AS220, AS220,  More more >
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