Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Ann Worthing

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The 12 oil paintings by Ann Worthing at Aron Packer Gallery set a single animal against a softly colored background, but most of their titles--Monkey Business, Squirrely--are words humans use to judge one another. Yet Worthing undercuts any judgment. The open eyes and dead-on gaze of the sheep in Sheepish contradict the title; the mug-shot profile and closed eyes of the goat in Scapegoat suggest a victim--though its raised head adds a hint of pride. And the smile and extended tongue of the cute dog in Bitch don't seem at all bitchy. Most compelling is Worthing's technique. Critic John Brunetti, writing on the show's invitation card, aptly characterizes her animals as "emerging from and disappearing into lush painterly backgrounds." The way these animals seem to be both solidifying and dissolving places the viewer on the dividing line between linguistic and prelinguistic worlds, forcing us to question the stability of objects and thus the whole notion of naming things. And the furry softness of all the paintings suggests unities rather than differences, making the specifics of a feeling or a thing seem momentary, even unimportant. Aron Packer, 118 N. Peoria, through January 4. Hours are 10:30 to 5:30 Tuesday through Saturday; closed December 24 and 25; 312-226-8984.

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