FAIRY TALE LAND Marro's 'The Accident.'
The ladies have it under control in Xander Marro's puppet dioramas exhibited in the group show "New Mythologies II" at Candita Clayton Gallery (999 Main St, Pawtucket, through June 1).
In The Hunt, a papier-mâché marionette woman perches atop a stepladder aiming a bloody spear downward at a white boar with poodle-ish tufts of fur, a dragon tail, and Mary Jane shoes. In Point Blank, a lady stands on a chair aiming a rifle at monstrous lady with a pair of boar heads.
It's one of those antiquated domestic tropes — the hysterical woman cowering atop a kitchen chair waving a broom at a harmless mouse. Only Marro turns the mice into actually scary beasts and arms the women with more firepower. The ladies appear calm and collected; it's just one more mess to clean up.
Marro's best diorama is The Accident, in which a woman in a fur-trimmed white cape stands on little stuffed fabric boulders before a patchwork diamond patterned backdrop (Marro has a great way with humble papier-mâché and sewn cloths). The woman drops a glittery cinderblock onto a giant white tarantula wearing Mary Janes on its eight legs.
We're recognizably in fairy tale land — the beautiful lady in her snow princess cape, the beastly spider, the sparkles. But Marro makes it fresh, with her own invented monsters, with all those shoes, with her women not waiting to be rescued but getting on with smashing the giant vermin themselves.
"New Mythologies II," featuring four Providence artists, is a reprise of the fantasy theme of a show at Candita Clayton two years ago. Back again with Marro are Corey Grayhorse's arresting photos of candy-colored carnival sideshow fashion freaks, about half of which will be familiar if you saw her March show at Craftland in Providence, and David Allyn's porcelains.
Grayhorse photographs a green-haired woman pushing a red-haired woman around a Laundromat in a cart; a woman in white cradling a child wearing a Mickey Mouse mask like a Madonna and Child; and two people wearing Laurel and Hardy masks holding hands in the snow near a geodesic dome. Grayhorse turns the world into a fluorescent dreamscape, pulsing with color and pattern. It's a place you'll want to run away to.
Allyn fashions handsome ceramic vases and panels decorated with images of helicopters, 1970s cars for sale, giant sci-fi robot spiders, and sepia downtown skylines amidst flowers, mushrooms, and butterflies. One vase features Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman. Allyn's gritty and hipster graphics are too easy, but his craftsmanship is lovely.
Added to "New Mythologies" lineup is Holly Gaboriault, who makes small, sharp collages by pasting together pictures of skinny models in fashionable coats, blouses, dresses, and heels with the heads of cats or dogs. A bird-headed figure struts by in leopard print pants. The collages seem to be the jumping off point for paintings of wildly attired animal-headed figures. But, for now, Gaboriault's painterly chops lag behind the promise of her vision.