Justin Richel's gouache paintings are narrative works of comic appeal. Chairs and tables are stacked in an apparatus as precarious as a Mouse Trap game, and pitchers spout thick brown liquid onto the floor. Richel's color scheme is gaudy and cartoonish, and therein lies his trick: present a risible scenario in a comic language, and leave the viewer with a heavy topic to ponder once the joke wears off. Devin Dobrowolski offers no such transparency with his wooden panels. One series shows five stoic males marked by professional garb. In "The Master's Bedroom," three naked male legs are surrounded by wink-and-nudge associative collage imagery.

But that's not to say you can't bring the kids. For his installation, "Prepared Televisions For Voice," Galen Richmond routes four junkyard TVs to a microphone. Speak into it, and you become the conductor of a tiny orchestra of cathode rays. It's hardly a dazzling display in its own right, but it's not meant to be. Each use drains the TVs of a little more juice, and it's touching to see an outmoded household staple flash its last pixels in an art gallery.

Nicholas Schroeder can be reached at  nschroeder@phx.com.

"AUDITION" | works by Katherine Benedict + Kimberly Convery + Veronica Cross + Michel Droge + Devin Dobrowolski + Susan Drucker + Justin Richel + Galen Richmond | Through April 9 | at Aucocisco Galleries, 89 Exchange St, Portland | 207.775.2222

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