CHARACTERS WITH CHARACTER Large tin letter forms by Arley-Rose Torsone.
In November, incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner and fellow Republicans called for the Smithsonian to shutter its National Portrait Gallery show surveying gay identity in a century of art. The "problem" was A Fire In My Belly, a 1987 video which David Wojnarowicz made in part in response to losing his partner to AIDS that year and learning that hewas HIV-positive (he died in 1992). Eleven seconds showed ants crawling over a crucifix, which offended Fox News and the conservative Catholic League, which called on Congress to reconsider funding the Smithsonian.
The Smithsonian quickly pulled the video from the "Hide/Seek" exhibit, which is scheduled to remain on view in Washington through February 13. Museums across the country have responded to this censorship by exhibiting Wojnarowicz's work, including AS220 (115 Empire Street, Providence, 401.831.9327, as220.org), which plans to screen the video from January 9 to 29 and host a queer arts symposium late in the month. It's a free speech highlight on the winter's roster of art.
"THE MAGICAL REALISM OF LOUISE MARIANETTI" | Bert Gallery | January 12 to March 19 | A survey of the art of Rhode Island painter Marianetti (1916-2009), which ranged from romanticized views of the Providence waterfront to dreamy dramas in which the artist seems to become a mystical figure.
540 South Water Street, Providence | 401.751.2658 or bertgallery.com
"2011 RISCA FELLOWSHIP EXHIBITION" | Artist Cooperative Gallery | January 26-February 19 | The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts presents its lively annual showcase of winners of its fellowship grants, this time including Ruth Dealy, Natalja Kent, Xander Marro, and others.
VISIONARY WORKS A detail from Nilima Sheikh's Shamiana series.
7 Canal Street, Westerly | 401.596.2221, westerlyarts.com or arts.ri.gov
"ARLEY-ROSE TORSONE: MIXED MESSAGES" | Craftland | January 27-February 26 | Crackerjack Providence graphic designer Torsone — best known for her work for AS220, most recently the old-timey window signs gracing the Mercantile Block building that AS220 is redeveloping — gets a well deserved solo show.
235 Westminster Street, Providence | 401.272.4285 or craftland.myshopify.com
"10 FROM 10: THE DIRECTOR'S CUT" | Grimshaw Gudewicz Art Gallery, Bristol Community College | January 27-February 24 | For the tenth anniversary of the gallery, director Kathleen Hancock brings back selected artists from previous shows. The roster ranges from Cristin Searles's jaunty biomorphic soft sculptures to Lloyd Martin's hard-edged abstract paintings.
777 Elsbree Street, Fall River, Massachusetts | 509.678.2811 or bristolcc.edu/gallery
"JONATHAN SHARLIN PHOTOGRAPHY" | Bannister Gallery, Rhode Island College | February 3-23 | Providence photographer Sharlin's work has ranged from portraits of Holocaust survivors to sensitive black-and-white landscapes from Rhode Island to Israel, which are animated by his thoughtful eye for natural light.
600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Providence | 401.456.9765 or ric.edu/bannister
"PRINTED IN PROVIDENCE" | Cade Tompkins Projects | February 4-March 12 | Guest curator Lois Harada showcases local printmaking, including Jungil Hong's halting psychedelia, Jürgen Partenheimer's doodly abstractions, Carl Fudge's kaleidoscoping graphics, and Aaron Siskind's legendary photographic abstract expressionism.
198 Hope Street, Providence | 401.751.4888 or cadetompkins.com