In the front space is I am not the same person that I was before, featuring a group of recent abstract paintings by Edgester Mark Brasuell. These paintings are clearly a continuation of the ideas about painting that Brasuell's been working out during the last several years, in particular the role of automatism and the accidental gesture. The thick smears of toned-up hues he employs -- luxurious shades of purple, red and green -- literally color the room with reflected light.
The same thing happens in the middle space with Metaphoria, an exhibit that highlights recent paintings by Ken Peterson, the co-op's founder and godfather. Peterson is an uncompromisingly idiosyncratic artist whose paintings are anything but decorative. Actually, many of them are downright ugly -- but that seems to be the point. The paintings in this show are figure studies and portraits. Peterson uses his expected tar paper as an art material, combining it with wood carved in low relief and some paint, mostly a vibrant acid-green color with black accents.
In the back room is an untitled show filled with quirky and dangerous-looking sculptures by Hans S. Wolfe. The cast-and-fabricated objects appear to be a cross between tools and torture devices, including "Juicing Hammer," made of lead with pyramidal spikes on the end, and "Citrine Ax," which looks like a medieval battle-ax that could do some serious damage if used in that way. Wolfe has kept a low profile and rarely shows, but with work this good, he really ought to do something about that.
Finally, in the Underground is New Paintings, which spotlights emerging artist Jason Needham. These paintings are disarmingly simple; on one level they seem to be sweet comic-book character studies, but on another they convey an unspecified sense of dread, as in "Uptown" (seen above). So I guess they're not so simple. Needham's real strength is his accomplished technique.
All four shows are worth seeing, and all four close Sunday.