There's a good bit of bodily anxiety on display in this annual showcase for regional artists.
In this show at the Trust Arts Education Center, you can see it most bluntly in Kyla Groat's installation "My Body Will Betray Me," whose centerpiece is twinned wax casts of a woman's torso, one with a breast, the other with a scar. Nearby, Melissa Bryan's painting "Desperation" recalls some of Bosch's gorier vignettes, depicting an elaborate disemboweling of a creature not quite human.
And that's just on the building's third floor. The bulk of the show – which includes 61 works by 46 artists — is on the fourth. There, you'll find work like Marla Roddy's "Internal Manifestations." The sculpture sits in a corner, looking like a pile of diseased gourds, or perhaps, cuing from the title, unwell human organs.
There's a similar feel to Rhellie Beach's "Legume," a felt sculpture that suggests some kind of fungal, metastasizing growth – especially in the companion photograph, where the sculpture is seen to be slung, scarf-like, over a woman's naked torso. In that context, it's also easy to get the willies from Jenna Boyle's "Mandrake." The installation features rootlike shapes suspended by twine from a tenuous canopy of dead branches and rotting plants; given the mandrake root's folkloric associations with the human body, one can't help thinking of human entropy.
Close by, meanwhile, sits Groat's sculpture "Empty," which has a more existential cast. But this work of glazed ceramic and bronze nonetheless depicts the figure of a man, his lower half mostly dissolved, bound and suspended inside a sort of miniature cavern.
Still, curators Murray Horne (of Wood Street Galleries), Michael Olijnyk (of the Mattress Factory) and Linda Benedict-Jones (of the Carnegie Museum of Art) have buffered this disquieting theme with quite a bit of humor and other moods. Groat herself (who seems to be this show's du jour featured artist) contributes a fun, somewhat surreal wooden sculpture of conjoined-twin chairs. That sits right by W. Kramm's "String Chair" (the Best of Show winner), which cleverly creates the 3D illusion of a chair with nothing but black elastic string.
Other fun stuff includes Christopher Galiyas's cheeky, pop-culturally saturated paintings (one of which is a map of North America labeling Canada "America's Hat").
Painter Jesse Best contributes two works displaying his vivid, graphic way with acrylic and resin on wood. Jason Lee's "Euthenic Device: Canopy" deploys a nature-in-a-light-box installation to critique virtual experience. And there are solid contributions from artists including Thomas Bigatel and Seth Clark
Even themes of bodily distress get tonally different treatments. William Schlough's funny sculpture "Untitled (Pay Phone)" depicts a life-sized man who's gotten sucked headfirst into a street-corner-style payphone stand, with just his kicking, airborne legs still visible, his suitcase sitting on the ground where he once stood. A sticker on the side of the phone box reads "No to Authoritarianism Be It Capitalist Socialist or Religious"; it's not clear whether our victim would have been better off using a cell phone, or short-wave radio.
Zachary Brown continues his series of paintings of contemporized religious icons with "Lazarus" – a beautiful, comtemplative piece whose subtext of rebirth doesn't make its depiction of death any less compelling.
The exhibition continues daily through Sun., June 10, at 805 Liberty Ave. Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, and noon-6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free.