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Toy Stories at Havu Gallery: Out of the sandbox and into the world

Laurel Swab, "Head with Marbles," oil on panel.
Laurel Swab, "Head with Marbles," oil on panel.

Face it, we never really get rid of our toys after we grow up. They morph and change shape a little bit, but they're still toys, though perhaps imbued with a different, more complex meaning. As kids, we play because it helps us learn to navigate the world. As adults, we play at playing -- play becomes a way to get away from it all. It's only natural for toys to show up in contemporary artwork, as well, and the weight they can give our artistic statements -- from the idea of toys as artifacts or objects of delight to a more sobering view of them as symbols of the lost paradise of childhood -- is pretty astute.

Three sculptors (Esteban Blanco and the team of Phillip Maberry and Scott Walker) and three painters (Michael Brennan, Frances Lerner and Laurel Swap) share such observations in Toy Stories, which opened last Friday at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street. And, as the following pictures prove, the results are eye-popping.

Esteban Blanco

"Barbie-Q," mixed media / kinetic.
"Barbie-Q," mixed media / kinetic.
"Toy Blimp," mixed media.
"Toy Blimp," mixed media.

Michael Brennan

"Suspension," oil on canvas.
"Suspension," oil on canvas.
"Bail Out," oil on canvas.
"Bail Out," oil on canvas.

Frances Lerner

"Working Woman," oil on panel.
"Working Woman," oil on panel.
"Eulogy," oil on panel.
"Eulogy," oil on panel.

Phillip Maberry/Scott Walker

"Foo Dog - Lick Lick," ceramic.
"Foo Dog - Lick Lick," ceramic.
"Big Grin," ceramic.
"Big Grin," ceramic.

Michael Stevens

"Uncle Sedley's Holiday," pine & enamel.
"Uncle Sedley's Holiday," pine & enamel.
"Gainsborough's Hounds," pine, cardboard & enamel.
"Gainsborough's Hounds," pine, cardboard & enamel.

Laurel Swab

"Head with Nest," oil on panel.
"Head with Nest," oil on panel.

See Toy Stories at Havu through September 3; the gallery is open during the day on Tuesdays through Saturdays, and until 9 p.m. every First Friday.


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