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Art: The Third Dimension

Crocheted, stitched or etched in Sheetrock, sculpture assumes new identities in current shows

Ginn presents thick, tubular and dolmalike versions of her pattern pieces from "Limp." They're fairly appealing, but I like them better when she pushes the material into more adventurous forms, like her works included in "Limp." The halos of pins strewn on the floor work well, but the framelike rectangular wood and paper pedestals don't feel necessary. Debbie McNulty's Privacy, right? (2000) uses two-inch by four-inch construction "framing" to create a corner of a house. The window areas of the walls are filled with goldfish tanks, a visual pun on the idea of living in a goldfish bowl. On the surface of each tank, she explores privacy issues with nostalgic illustrations. One depicts a '40s-era policeman, all smiles and assistance, long before cop brutality and corruption were part of our everyday consciousness. The image is juxtaposed with text that ominously reads, "Your DNA is recorded as a result of a traffic violation."

Hills Snyder's witty and subversive Tattoo (2000) is carved through layers of paint and into the Sheetrock of one of the gallery's movable walls. At first it looks like some obscure prehistoric geometric symbol from a rock carving, a cave paintingŠ then long-submerged pop-cultural memory kicks in. It's one of those little plastic thingies that you stuck in the middle of 45s so you could play them on LP spindles. Opposite is Paul Kittleson's elegant Smoke (2000), a series of "smoke" rings constructed from circular tangles of steel wire. It's a sturdy manifestation of an ephemeral thing. Depending on where you stand, the rings are concentric or move forward in increasing size.

Jeff Shore continues his series of bizarre Home Depot rig-job environments in Just Add Water(2000). Shore's work invariably looks like it was created by a technological idiot savant crossbred with MacGyver. Shore has transformed the space of Lawndale's microgallery, and intrepid art viewers must walk down a narrow, dark corridor till they get to a lit basin of water. Having successfully reached the basin, you take the cup and pour water into the center tube. This (somehow) causes an electrical contact that sets a Rube Goldbergian process in motion. Across the room, a framed screen is lit from behind, showing the silhouettes of Shore's operating mechanisms of PVC pipe, aquarium tubing, wood and God knows what else. Water moves through miked tubes and creates what approximates the sound of a flushing toilet. It's a delightfully goofball environment that makes you wonder what he could do with the main gallery and a Home Depot charge card with no credit limit.

The surface of Faction, Kevin Jefferies's steel-paneled sculpture, has the text from paragraph seven of James Madison's Federalist Paper No. 10 cut into it. In the text, Madison presents an argument as to why people inevitably form factions and the role governments play in this phenomenon. Jefferies approaches the idea of "frame" in sociological terms: as a way individuals position themselves in society, not merely as a way to define the boundaries of a work of art. A box with switches is placed next to the panel. By flicking a switch, random letters from the text are illuminated to spell out the slogans associated with various factions. The slogans include such things as "Gig 'em Aggies," "Black Power," "Free Elian" and "Whites Only." Flicking a couple of switches at once creates bizarre combinations. For Jefferies, the challenge of the "frame" theme has turned out well.

Some other responses were less successful. John C. Runnels has painted his out.SIDE.walk (2000) poem on, of course, the sidewalk outside Lawndale; it's visually appealing and could be viewed as "concrete poetry" -- stop me before I pun again! -- in several senses. But it isn't appealing on a literary level. Graham Openshaw's grid-based Cartesian Intersection (2000) would have been better without the obtrusive floor panels, but it still calls to mind an overly ambitious 3-D design project or corporate art.

In any case, there is an abundance of work out there in this sculptural version of FotoFest. The thermometer hasn't hit 100 yet (at least not by press time), so get out, see the work, and judge for yourself.

"Darn" and "Frame" are on view through June 17 at Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main Street. For more info, call (713)528-5858.

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