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"Pool Party" Exhibit Is Light, Fun and Refreshingly Cool

Summer is already here, or at least that's the way it feels when visiting Anya Tish Gallery's Pool Party exhibit. Inspired by the very Zen swimming pool acrylics by Kristen Martincic, the gallery invited a handful of artists to contribute similarly themed works; the result is light, fun and - in spite of the concept - refreshingly cool.

Martincic's pools are sparse compositions focusing on just the shape of the water and ladders; removing the grass, sky, environment and concrete liner allows the water to take center stage. Evocative of the wide expanse of our oceans, her 97" x 90" Still Water features wave after blue wave on textured paper, with a tall ladder reaching up from the depths into a sky of nothingness.

The highlight of the exhibit is Katja Loher's video installation, Where Was Blue Born?, projected onto the floor in an almost 6 minute endless loop of circle-shaped aqueous imagery. A cross between Esther Williams and Oompa Loompas, these small figures swim, dance and arrange themselves into symmetrical patterns and letters forming esoteric phrases such as "Was the color blue born?" and "Can the moonlight stop the blue ice streams?" It's hypnotic and delightful and, according to Tish, even her dog was mesmerized by the piece, first approaching it slowly, then embracing it, and finally crawling "inside" to try to lick the water.

At first glance, Celan Bouillet's Here Be Dragons is a white-spotted ocean of blue gradient, but closer inspection reveals a sea teeming with activity. Discover green sea monsters, a deserted island, a ghost mermaid, circling sharks, a ship in a bottle, a vortex drain and much more. Dotted with compass roses and connected with fine gold lines, this must be what the Bermuda Triangle looks like.

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The model in Daniela Edburg's Death by Lifesavers archival print sports candy-colored hair and wears '70s era colorful striped knee socks. Her sugar-spent body floats in a circular pool ring, ironically surrounded by Life Savers® candies, with the tip of something menacing in the far corner. Although technically a crime scene, the pops of saturated color make for a pleasing vignette.

Contemporary realist James Zamora, who has produced many scenes from grocery store shelves in his Aisle paintings series, has three pieces in the show: Forks, Cold Brew and Chili Cheese. Forks is successful in capturing the promise and hope of planning a big event for family and friends. Cold Brew is painted in the style of a Renaissance-era still life, though the subject matter is the more modern Budweiser® beer can rather than a bowl of fruit. Chili Cheese only suffered from the acrylic paint, as the melted cheese and chili begged for the shine of oil.

William Cannings's inflatables are fun and realistic, constructed of inflated steel and finished with automotive paint; Hive-4 and Mini Beach Ball (Glow-in-the-Dark) are ready for a trip to the beach. Lana Waldrep-Appl also introduced swimming pool paintings, but her Bleachers is sublime, with its cool apple green grass. No summer would be complete without a cold, refreshing drink, so Neva Mikulicz's Slurppp (Fountain Drink) pastel of a Whataburger® Styrofoam cup is appropriate, complete with a push-the-button slurping sound effect. Pool Party continues through May 23, at Anya Tish Gallery, 4411 Montrose, open Tuesday to Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., 713-524-2299, anyatishgallery.com.

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