Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

The Summer Show

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Most of the works in Gallery 312's annual show of local "emerging and underrepresented artists" are worth seeing--and several merit a special trip. In Shannon Stratton's Spectacular Time a messy network of thread is attached to a partly dissolved plastic surface; she calls it an image of "transience and abandonment," and it also has the creepiness of a bit of detritus come to life. Geoffrey Smalley's installation Termination of Vista, whose shapes are based on "the instructional diagrams for Hot Wheels play sets," includes a wall painting showing cutout fragments of an urban scene, faux floorboards cut in jagged patterns below it, and pieces of Astroturf on the walls behind it. The work has a dislocating effect that turns the kitschy unity of pop culture inside out. For his Nuclear Family Tree, Mike Null lined up five microwave housings, matching their faux wood-grain patterns--a dig at the inauthenticity of cheap, mass-manufactured products. Jason Dunda draws inspiration from "the impossible physics and weird science...of children's book illustrations, comic books, and folktales"; his almost surreal The Sweater and the Sugar Pile includes a pile of sugar and an arm emerging from a window, all on a sensual orange background--pieces of an unexplained drama that seem adrift in a fleshy vastness. Gallery 312, 312 N. May, through August 16. Hours are 11 to 5 Tuesday through Saturday; 312-942-2500.

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