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Mary Magsamen and Stephan Hillerbrand's Wild Household Imagery Is the Standout in "Measured: Lawndale Artist Studio Program Exhibition"

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Lawndale's Artist Studio Program provides resources and unrestrained studio space for three projects each year, chosen from a call for entries, and the current main gallery group show is displaying the results.

Daniel McFarlane presents a series of acrylic paintings on panels that depict wooden, geometric 3D shapes augmented with abstract, blobby matter. The works flip the properties of organic and synthetic materials, suggesting bizarro-world trees and parasitic organisms.

Next, Anthony Thompson Shumate delivers a show of 1:1 scale drawings of "tools," like a drill, a car, clothes and a vibrator. At first look, they appear to be studies or unfinished exploratory drafts, but taken together they form a strange kind of blueprint for living--like a character study in a Hollywood movie. Next stop: corporate branding.

Third, Mary Magsamen and Stephan Hillerbrand's photo and video series is a collection of wild household imagery. The photos take titles from Greek myth, like Diana, an image of Magsamen holding a black Labrador dog in her arms, and Pandora, with several human limbs emerging from a cardboard file-cabinet box. The videos are the stars of the show.

In DIY Loveseat, Magsamen and Hillerbrand pose indoors on a loveseat with a strangely sagging middle. Then, we see how it got that way. Magsamen used a chainsaw to cut the middle section out of a couch, after which Hillerbrand used duct tape to fuse the two remaining sections together. The actual sections are displayed in the gallery.

In Elevated Landscape, Hillerbrand does a little nighttime landscaping on his lawn, mowing, watering, fertilizing and leaf-blowing a section of grass. Magsamen arrives, backing her Mini Cooper up to an elevated platform--the "lawn" is actually atop the platform. It's an odd jump; I thought the video needed a shot that zoomed out to reveal the platform. But what happens next takes "cutting the lawn" to a hilarious level. The exhibit is on view through June 4 at Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main. For information, call 713-528-5858.

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