A Scary Picture

In a nightmarish time, these images of nightmares still work.

The Mesches show closes this Sunday, but there's a little more time left to see The Dream Mill, which comes down next weekend. Unfortunately, that show suffers from inadequate gallery space at the Lakewood Cultural Center. The LCC's visual-arts specialist, Elizabeth Morton, dealt with the problem by drafting the huge adjacent lobby and the generously proportioned mezzanine as additional spaces. This is a good solution, but it prevents the show from holding together because the works are so widely separated. It's too bad the only recently completed LCC didn't include a sufficiently large exhibition space to begin with.

Zalkind, who worked with Morton, began by issuing a call for entries, but virtually no one responded, so he recruited artists himself, many of them through their representative galleries.

Among the standouts are two haunting Iris prints by Philadelphia photographer Ruth Thorne-Thomsen that take up imaginary seascapes as their subject. They are the product of an elaborate process involving the construction of miniature sets, which are photographed, digitized and altered before being printed. These photo-based works are from the same series as those currently on display at Robischon, in which Thorne-Thomsen's work is covered in some depth.

"Coney," by Arnold Mesches, acrylic on canvas.
"Coney," by Arnold Mesches, acrylic on canvas.
"Coney," by Arnold Mesches, acrylic on canvas.
"Coney," by Arnold Mesches, acrylic on canvas.

Details

Through October 28, 303-399-2660

The Dream Mill
Through November 7
Lakewood Cultural Center, 480 South Allison Parkway, Lakewood
303-987-7876

101 Vampires
Through October 31
GOOG, 765 Santa Fe Drive
303-623-4664

Singer Gallery of the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture, 350 South Dahlia Street

The work of Colorado photographers is also seen in The Dream Mill, including an animated lenticular photo of swimmers by Linda Girvin and a self-portrait by Michael Ensminger titled "Frida's Dream," in which the photographer is dressed up as Frida Kahlo. The black-and-white nude silhouettes by Randy Brown are really choice.

Other things worth seeing are "The Waking Dream," a delicately detailed mixed-media collage by Michele Barnes; "Tattoo," a landscape painting by Jack Balas over which a paragraph of fiction floats; and two paintings by Peter Illig in which disparate representational images are improbably juxtaposed. A pair of multi-panel pieces by Jerry Kunkel do the same thing in a different way. The Kunkels feature enigmatic representational images lined up in horizontal rows of ten separate panels each. Creepy yet somehow lyrical are the two paintings -- one of a robot, the other of aliens from outer space -- by Paul Gillis. These subjects could have produced hokey results, but not the way Gillis handles them.

Really spectacular is a dusty-toned mural-sized painting called "Los Capuchinos," by Santiago Perez. Morton points out that painting inquisitors in conical hats and stylized masks, as he does in this case, is out of character for Perez.

In both of these shows, the artists are able to convey a sense of uneasiness and foreboding by using a variety of non-literal images. "Both shows capture the way artists deal with the non-rational and convey ideas in non-verbal ways," says Zalkind. "I believe artists can tap into non-rational ways of approaching things better than others can."


Speaking of the irrational, how about trying to mount a credible art show called 101 Vampires? Well, curator Kathryn Charles actually pulled it off. True, the show has no shortage of the kind of stuff that will appeal to every young woman in the city who wears black lipstick, but there's something in this goth presentation that's appealing to the rest of us as well.

Like Zalkind, Charles found herself in an awkward position, given the show's theme. "The day the World Trade Center came down, I thought, would anyone want to see a show about vampires? It seemed so irrelevant," she says. "But I had already done too much work on it. I had to go on, and I'm really glad I did."

When Charles says that she'd already done a lot of work on the show, she wasn't kidding. Not only did she put together an impressive group of sponsors and locate a wide variety of material from a vast array of collectors, dealers and artists, but she had to deal with the crisis of having been put out of the venue originally set for the show: the Emmanuel Gallery. Charles had been the interim director at Emmanuel and had been given the okay for the show earlier this year, only to be dismissed after she'd already issued a call for entries. Eventually she found a home for the exhibit, in the gallery space at the front of Pat Ryan's GOOG studio and workshop.

The show looks great, bringing together an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink assortment of material, including a nineteenth-century vampire-killer kit that contains a gun, a Bible, a crucifix and a wooden stake, as well as contemporary abstract paintings -- like the one by Jeffrey Keith -- which are only related to the rest of the show by their rich deep colors.

And let's not forget the attractions for that black-lipstick crowd -- notably, Jane Falkenberg's scrupulously done representational paintings of vampires and their fellow travelers, among other things of that ilk.

101 Vampires closes, appropriately enough, on Halloween.

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