Entertainment

May 29, 2014

In the galleries: Beauty for beauty’s sake

Although these artists have varied and often complex motivations, most viewers will probably love their work for the sheer visual pleasure it offers.

Appian Way/

Properly Obsessive

This show pairs two Charlotte mixed-media artists, one inspired by European antiquity and the other by the thrift store down the street.

After a trip to Italy last year, Tom Thoune, who works primarily in mosaics, began creating imagined artifacts that one might find on the Appian Way. Scattered around the gallery, as if mimicking the random way one might encounter such artifacts, are urns, haunting portrait busts and other often enigmatic objects.

The small, tender sculpture “doppie mani” encapsulates Thoune’s feeling about his partner of 27 years. It depicts two hands that are not clasping, but are instead joined at the wrist, as if to symbolize a relationship that provides the security and confidence to engage with a larger world.

Vista’s irreverent found-object assemblages and photographs alternately lampoon and honor neighborhood, home and garden. Particularly appealing are her themed, stuff-encrusted keepsake boxes, which often combine sentiment and commentary.

Vista loves a good pun, as is evident in “Pennies from Presidential Heaven,” a music box covered with coins, figurines and other doodads and painted white; among its cast of characters are a pig and a (James Knox) Polk.

Studio K, 2024 E. Seventh St.; 704-332-4906; closing reception 6-9 p.m. June 6.

Con Relación al Espacio

Ceramist Jeannine Marchand took her initial inspiration from her Spruce Pine studio – the dimensions of its windows and doors. However, the resulting works are not mere transcriptions or replications of a physical space; they are rich with emotional intensity.

Made of smooth white ceramic, the varied objects include vessels and works suspended from the ceiling. But most dazzling are the ceramic and steel wall-mounted pieces in the “Ventana” series; with their deep folds and almost iridescent surfaces, they are sensuous and mysterious.

LaCa Projects; lacaprojects.com; 704-837-1688; through June 20.

color, cut, stripe + mark

Selena Beaudry, a former Charlotte resident now living in London, is best known for densely layered cut-paper constructions that are part painting, part sculpture. This exhibition also includes lively, colorful paintings on canvas, but the cut paper dominates the show.

Although Beaudry’s process is clearly laborious, the results are lyrical and bright. Most of the cut-paper works are composed of small, biomorphic shapes that Beaudry has assembled in ways that evoke associations with nature – vegetation, clouds, cascading water.

The most impressive piece in the show is “walking on nettles,” a 95-by-149-inch mass of spikey forms that takes up an entire wall; it has all the beauty and rhythm of Beaudry’s other work, but its slightly menacing presence gives it added depth.

Hidell Brooks Gallery; hidellbrooks.com; 704-334-7302; through June 28.

Orbit 12

This continuous loop video installation by Los Angeles-based artist Jennifer Steinkamp is a complex, almost hallucinatory experience. The complete sequence is less than three minutes long, but it invites – or, more accurately, demands – repeated viewing.

This maelstrom of rotating leaves, branches and petals – which also cycles through the seasons – goes beyond eye candy and technical wizardry in its depiction of a cruel, beautiful natural world that goes on without and in spite of us.

Mint Museum Uptown; mintmuseum.org; 704-337-2000; through Aug. 31.

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