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Space, Light, Line

Works by Cavanaugh, Edge, Burrows and Robin

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Brilliance in the Lost Moment of Hesitation," Ali Cavanaugh's show at L Ross Gallery, explores the courage and wisdom of Milly Naeger, a teenager battling cancer. In the artist's statement for her show, Cavanaugh congratulates Milly on "a battle well fought." At the time of the photo shoots, on which Cavanaugh's current body of work is based, Milly did not know what the outcome of her treatment would be.

In Interior Light, one of the show's most memorable works, Milly's arms are outstretched, her palms up and open. The striking coral-and-teal diamond pattern of the teenager's arm warmers brings to mind the leggings worn by jesters at Renaissance fairs. Milly's movements, however, are neither antic like that of a Harlequin nor frenzied like the jig of a memento mori designed to strike fear in the souls of mortals. The slow, undulating movements of Milly's wrist and arms are similar to those flexible graces of the mudra dancers of India.

Cavanaugh's 50 or so layers of nearly transparent washes create colors so luminous that Milly looks lit from the inside as well as bathed in the pure light suggested by the stark-white plaster panel on which Cavanaugh paints. Eyes closed and head bent to the side, Milly appears to be listening, aware of the feelings and physical sensations moving through her, experiencing each moment as fully as she can. In spite of the knowledge that her body may fail her and that sooner or later death claims all of us, Milly dances with gratitude and grace.

This is a must-see show — not only because Cavanaugh is one of the few accomplished fresco painters working in the U.S. today or because she has mastered body language and light, but because Cavanaugh's themes are universal. In this pantomime, one of the bravest, most honest statements regarding the human condition, Milly dances for us all. Through June 30th The genius of Wayne Edge's best works lies in this sculptor's ability to suggest the whole cosmos in one piece but still keep his composition open and elegant.

Empty space lies at the center of Sunrise on Glass Butte, the largest, most supercharged work in Edge's David Lusk exhibition, "Gazing at Distant Mountains."

Tiny pieces of quartz attached to a jumble of dark-brown, nearly black sticks of wenge wood, pointing in all directions, could be a shower of shooting stars or the first glints of sunrise. This evocative work suggests kinetic and quantum as well as galactic energy. Sticks of wenge at the bottom, tipped with bits of translucent, smoky-gray volcanic glass, remind us that energy roils not only throughout the cosmos but also inside earth's molten core.

Large, slightly contoured pieces of wenge trace what looks like the international flight pattern of an airline. Bottom left, a larger, tautly arched bow feels like the bowl of heaven enfolding earth and starlight into the palpable blanket of night.

Keep studying this remarkable work and you'll see the last glints of light in the universe sucked into the gaping mouth of a black hole and the fast-frame action of two samurai warriors engaging in the swordplay of kendo, another art form that Edge has mastered. Through July 3rd

One of the most moving paintings in "Caballo de Silueta," Mary Cour Burrows' Perry Nicole Fine Arts show of equestrian studies and stray dogs, is Perro Perdito.

In this encaustic on panel, the sheen of beeswax becomes the slick sweaty fur of a dog Burrows photographed in Guanajuato, Mexico, last summer. The subject of Perro Perdito looks up at us with eyes clouded over with cataracts. A background of Van Gogh-like whorls helps us feel what the dog feels — nauseous and dizzy from lack of sleep and sustenance. Burrows paints only the front part of the dog as he walks past us, left leg extended far forward, in a gait that feels both desperate and determined. He will walk until he finds water, food, compassion, or until he drops. "Perro Perdito" keeps moving because he must. Through July 3rd

Currently at the P&H Café is Christopher Robin's "Will Work 4 Food." This is a show loaded with social and sexual satire with a beautiful nude, a motley crew of contemporary artists behaving like a band of boisterous Renaissance minstrels, and a portrait of singer/songwriter Davy Ray Bennett. Working in the style of 15th-century Northern Renaissance painters' careful observation and multiple layers of glaze, Robin lays the soul as well as the skin of his nude model bare and captures Bennett's unsettling synthesis of the sensitive and the sardonic, which, like his songs, cuts to the bone. Through July 7th

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