INFECTIOUSLY HAPPY Michael Pascale’s That 70s Show.
"Outside the Lines: New Classics from Top Drawer Art Center" at the Providence Art Club (11 Thomas Street, through September 30) features 20 artists from Top Drawer's art programs in Warren for adults with developmental disabilities. The Art Club, which was founded in 1880, announces it as its first show of outsider art. The collection is a mixed bag, but the most striking artworks are fired by an obsessive drive to animate every space.
Sometimes this takes the form of abstraction, like David Robidoux's frenetic marker doodles with linework that can seem like geologic cross-sections or Wendy LeBeau's Ocean of Dreams, a Jackson Pollock-like drip painting, but more energetic and in brighter turquoise, yellow, and bubblegum pink. Or Katrina Cathcart's Fallen Angels, a canvas of antic, jostling groups of rainbow stripes. Here and there words appear "Red Socks/Patriots," "Star/Struck," "Beaches/Parties/Music" that add a feeling of celebration.
Other artists draw in a style reminiscent of elementary school bulletin boards. Katie Carcieri's painting Good Morning is a buoyant, though muddied, explosion of flying smiley-face hearts. Michael Pascale's marker drawing That 70s Show is a radiating field of dozens and dozens of smiling people, drawn in a beguiling childlike manner amongst patches of blue, red, green, and yellow. At the top Pascale writes a list of "friends" from the television sitcom, and includes himself. It might be about craving that sort of community, but at the same time it's infectiously happy.
POURED ABSTRACTION Wendy LeBeau's Ocean of Dreams.
The excellent, nomadic, local curatorial duo Tabitha Piseno and Sam Keller of R.K. Projects has a new pop-up exhibit at 60 Orange Street (through September 30) by Naho Taruishi of New York. Her aptly titled Corner Projection Series No. 6 is an eight-minute projection of white geometric designs into the corner of the room, with the standard-issue buzzing drone soundtrack by Laura Cetilia. A blade of light grows in the corner and transforms into columns and rectangles inside rectangles, kaleidoscopically mirrored across the corner. It's slow and meditative, but at times dull. Some might register spiritual cues in the dawning lights, or it might read simply as animated minimalism.
Bannister Gallery's "Annual Faculty Exhibition" at Rhode Island College (600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Providence, through September 30) features eight teachers from the school. William Martin's Plugjoint sits on the floor, resembling a giant keychain or a pair of steampunk jet engines fashioned from rusty metal and scorched wood barrel planking. His Zugverbindung (the title is apparently German for railroad service or train connection) looks like the matte black steel boiler and smokestack of a mini-steam train locomotive. A chain comes out of one end and links to a metal ball surrounded by a pair of rings. It's like a cross between a prisoner's ball-and-chain and a mace or a naval mine. It speaks of bondage and industry and maybe S&M. But mostly Martin's curious industrial shapes, with their dreamlike echoes of familiar machines, are alluring mysteries.