"From the Pinnacle to the Prize" Exhibit

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Two artists with dramatically different approaches to art are showing at the Mariago Collective in the "From the Pinnacle to the Prize" exhibit. One, Ariane Roesch, is warm and gentle, shifting shapes which are normally rigid into softer contours, and adding an inner luminosity.

The other, Scott Proctor, perhaps says it best in his artist statement, which says: "The unmentionables... not quite so subtly alluding to what we are all thinking about ... butts, balls, boobs, blobs, and sweat stains ... right? Or is it just me?" The contrast is between celestial and earthy, between romantic and pragmatic, between - well, you get it.

The first floor of the very attractive building is given over to Roesch, with the major piece being Rung by Rung, a soft vinyl ladder of nine rungs, displayed on the floor and covered in what seemed to be old-fashioned vinyl. LED lights enhance the rungs, making it attractive, and welcoming, as though the artist had decreed: "No more hardness, the world will be soft." And yet there is another dimension to its appeal, a hint of treachery, as this ladder is certainly treacherous, echoing the poisoned apple in Snow White.

Kiss is another ladder, this one erect, free-standing and A-shaped, with five rungs, and the vinyl floral-patterned, with accents of purple. One side has white rungs with blue lights, and on the other side the rungs have pink lights. The effect is endearing.

A shorter ladder leans against a wall, four-runged, close to the shape that might lead to the upper section of a bunk bed. It is covered in a gold-colored vinyl, and achieves a look of expensive elegance, despite the simplicity of its materials.

On the second level, a large number of glazed ceramics meet one's possibly astonished gaze. Most consist of two globes, side by side, and it may be entertaining to spend some time speculating whether a given work represents voluptuous boobs, or a butt - I am not necessarily advocating this.

The colors vary, and usually have a topping, much like chocolate syrup, with sprinkles, on an ice cream scoop. Peppermint Bottom is very attractive, due to its rich color, though I liked the warm strength of Peaches even better.

Some are wall-hung, some on pedestals, but the ones on pedestals somehow seemed more pedestrian, like squatters in a tenement, heavier, ponderous, as opposed to the light-hearted jubilation of the more exciting wall-hung pieces. For, make no mistake, it's clear that Proctor savors lust, and believes strongly in William Blake's proverb: "The lust of the goat is the bounty of God."

Curiously, I came to like best Please Sir, a piece I was initially not drawn to. It is smaller, less obtrusive, and does not have two globes, but it has an air of mystery about it. It requires more of the viewer's attention, and is thus perhaps more rewarding.

There are five panels of sweat stains, framed and hung on the wall, and these are grayish brown, flat, with no interesting composition. They are an indication that Proctor is not above testing one's patience.

The exhibition was curated by Jovito Pacheco. There will be an Artist Talk with Ariane Roesch on Friday, August 29, from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

From the Pinnacle to the Prize runs through September 6 at The Mariago Collective, 1707 Waugh, open Wednesday to Friday, noon to 6:00 p.m, Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., 832-997-6102, themariagocollective.com.

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