Mary Lou Zelazny | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Mary Lou Zelazny

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Mary Lou Zelazny's dreamy images of young women and girls in nine new collaged paintings at Carl Hammer flirt with kitsch but ultimately transcend it to reveal an unusual spirituality. In Love in a Puff, a nude young woman in a diaphanous, billowing skirt walks a narrow plank suspended over an abstract nighttime cityscape; every element is a pastiche of differently shaped swaths of color painted on separate pieces of canvas. This painting's power comes in part from tension between the woman's verticality and the background's nearly horizontal lines. Also, some of the background's blues extend into her pink skin, which contributes to the feeling--found in other works in the show as well--of an individual so exposed and vulnerable to the world that it seems to flow through her like a river. The girl in Beautiful Tomorrow sits overlooking a vast expanse of land and water, her blanket echoing the sky's swirling clouds, her face filled with the sky's blue. The young woman sleeping in Someone Else's Life is rendered with a mix of brushwork styles, some repeating in the folds of the sheets around her. The opposite of narcissists, Zelazny's women are almost frighteningly open to the world. Carl Hammer, 740 N. Wells, through January 3. Hours are 11 to 6 Tuesday through Friday and 11 to 5 Saturday; 312-266-8512.

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