Scale is the theme in "Grid," where every artwork is on the same scale:4 feet by 8 feet, and the show is worth the visit

Arts Review


Creative Research Laboratory, through Feb. 12

"Grid" presents 18 art projects – paintings, drawings, sculptures, and little rooms – all on the same scale: 4 feet by 8 feet. Artists were given the shape of the standard plywood unit for inspiration. The show is worth the visit, although a few pieces are predictably derivative and a couple just unsuccessful. Jason Sowell's basic desk table bothers me the most. He writes: "JIGSAW's designs employ digital fabrication in order to respond to the need for inexpensive and transportable furniture among today's increasingly nomadic younger population." But I could find zero evidence of precision in its fabrication; it's coming apart. Jarrod Beck also produced a wood-based sculpture, but it's falling apart intentionally – coming out of the ceiling, in fact. He captures a sense of drifting movement, with the threads holding up the wood giving it a slight gracefulness that contrasts nicely with the common materials. The inner lighting of the sculpture feels soothing and finished.

Surprisingly, my single favorite piece in the show is the video-based 2112 Flexagon Hills, by Jill Pangallo and Virginia Yount. Within a plywood cube labeled "Totalicorp" – a tight but comfortable space – visitors sit and watch a weird science-fiction movie with a narrative that's more Spielberg's Minority Report than Orwell's 1984: In the future, "Totalicorp" will plug all humans into self-sustaining pods. While there is nothing revolutionary about paranoid futuristic storylines, this piece is thorough. The narration is well-written, and the tone of the voiceover perfectly pitched. The video has an array of corporate graphics and tag lines, combined with ridiculous costumes, and is entertaining.

Christa Palazzolo contributes a delicious series of eight Talking Heads. In a confident pop style, she pokes fun at revisionist historians, portraying Helen of Troy as an Eighties valley girl and Harriet Tubman as a Sixties Motown singer. The work is detailed yet feels fresh and lighthearted. Also among the painters in the show, Stephanie Wagner contains a cheerfully bright palette and a gushing energy in the painting California Coming Home.

Some of the artists worked in the gallery to create their pieces. Bob Anderson covered his 4-by-8 section of the wall in a dense graphite drawing. He builds up a dark quagmire and teases figurations out of it. The pencil shavings generated while he was drawing on the wall are carefully left on the floor as evidence of his time there. Also working on the wall was Ali Fitzgerald. In an interesting compression of her typically gigantic work, she made a cartoon-bubble-style history of her entire life titled A Million Little Lapses. Her artistic bravado is toned toward the comedic, and her composition and drawing hold together well. She fantasizes: "I made out with Jeff Koons, on top of the giant puppy, I made out with a puppy, on top of Jeff Koons, Ew."

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Grid, Jason Sowell, Jarrod Beck, 2112 Flexagon Hills, Jill Pangallo, Virginia Yount, Christa Palazzolo, Talking Heads, Stephanie Wagner, California Coming Home, Bob Anderson, Ali Fitzgerald, Jeff Koons, A Million Little Lapses

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