December 4, 2008

Critic Douglas Max Utter notices a tendency to stroke and fondle odd bits of material until they die from the excess attention

Douglas Max Utter in Cleveland Scene: "Among other trends in contemporary art is a notable tendency to stroke and fondle odd bits of material until they die from the excess attention. Cool stuff, no doubt; I'm just saying. As an example, there's the work by artists selected from around the country for the exhibit Hyper-Nature at SPACES gallery. Much of it feels like décor for a pet cemetery on another planet. The emphasis here is on 'hyper' more than 'nature,' meaning that some aspect of the world is exaggerated, inverted or bent out of shape. Materials are considered to be, as well as forced to be, deceptive; things aren't what they seem...Much of the art at Hyper-Nature is low-profile stuff, easy to walk past. But it often needs a second, hard look, and some of it is definitely worth the trouble. Even if it isn't, the artists here demand that audiences pay attention to things that may at first glance seem odd, unpleasant or merely inconsequential, eliciting an 'Oh, I'm supposed to look at that?' response. But such moments of incredulity have always been the signature of so-called 'advanced' art. If visitors drive through nearby Ohio City and notice a dry stretch of West 25th Street that looks better than the stuff at SPACES, that just might be the beginning of perceptual growth....The question arises: Can artists be trusted with their pets? You decide. " Read more.

"Hyper-Nature," Spaces, Cleveland, OH. Through Jan. 14. Artists include Sherry Bittle,, Jason Briggs, Alison Carey, Gina Ruggeri, Kimberly Hart, Carin Mincemoyer, Laura Moriarty, Judith Mullen

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