Art » Art Feature

Colors of the Mind

Contemporary artists skirt the edge of reality.



From quirky to transcendent to sassy, May exhibitions provide a wide range of art. Dwayne Butcher's eye-popping minimalism simulates the flight patterns of Superman, and Mel Spillman and Ty Ennis chart the tangled worlds of celebrity.

In "Supermandamnfool," the current installation at Material gallery, minimalism meets brilliant colors meets Butcher's love for Superman movies. With six red and blue panels on the left wall, 30 red slats to our right, and 10 equally brilliant blue boxes mounted on the wall in the back, Butcher announces that on June 30th, Superman Returns premieres.

Look close. There are hints of humanity in the artist's sleek, precise, brilliantly colored homage to the Man of Steel. Red latex dripped across the panels to our left resembles sound waves or EKG readings of the human heart. The red dripped along the bottom of the blue boxes at the back of the gallery looks like sap oozing from the wall.

The title of the show, "Supermandamnfool," nicely sums up Butcher's quirky, surprisingly evocative art and the human condition. In spite of our heroic attempts at precision and control, things get squashed. They ooze and flow unpredictably. And like Superman, Butcher is on a mission. With brilliantly colored, glass-smooth surfaces, he slides our point of view around the gallery and asks us to soar as fast and as high as we can.

Through May 27th

In "Cross Axis: west (memphis) east," the group exhibition at Marshall Arts, Mel Spillman's female figures dissolve into worlds of celebrity. While the garter belts, eye mascara, and stiletto heels of the legendary dominatrix Marti Domination (Queen of the Box Office) remain intact, her body disappears in the glare of the floodlights of Matthew Barney's extravaganza Cremaster. In az Hollywood portrait of glamour, the face of Carole Lombard is obscured by a thick mask of makeup. And we can just make out the soul behind the mask in Spillman's sparest, most accomplished work, Pier Angeli. Untouched white paper suggests Angeli's flawless complexion and pools of India ink are the limpid, sad eyes of this actress who committed suicide in 1971.

Ty Ennis' small, mixed media drawings are sardonic commentaries on celebrity in all its theatrical, self-absorbed glory. Rather than being honored for his public service to others, for example, Ennis' Man of the Year is a famous musician "being serviced" by three adoring fans. With titles as sardonic as his images, Ennis also depicts the sexual charge of celebrity in a portrait of a buxom porn actress in Jenna Jameson and her cache of sluts tempt me. I guess I am human.

But Ennis' irony borders on pathos in Many of Us Will Live Forever. In this drawing, a man wearing a dingy T-shirt looks out at us from shadowed, sunken eyes. This is the quirky, raw face of a man who lives close to the edge and believes he is invincible no matter how many drugs he takes or how much sleep he loses. This is the face of the friend who never made 40, the one still etched in our minds.

Through May 22nd

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