Exhibition explores human urge to fly

‘Icarus: An exploration of the human urge to fly’

This exhibition of a dozen-plus artists is a catalog of dreams. But the title indicates a harsh reality: that such dreams involve recklessness, with the outcome determining whether the flyer is brilliant or foolish.

At the heart of the exhibition are nine photographs – by the renowned team of Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick – that use elaborate props and staging to depict airships, balloons and other imaginary flying machines.

Other highlights are Ryan Buyssens’ “resistance,” birdlike wings that flap menacingly in response to a viewer’s presence; Paul Villinski’s “Dreamer,” a plane-bed hybrid; and Aggie Zed’s small mixed-media sculptures that seem to be about thwarted expectations in the midst of frenetic activity.

Projective Eye Gallery, UNC Charlotte Center City; http://centercity.uncc.edu/projective-eye-art-gallery; 704-687-0833; through Dec 23.

‘Beyond Craft’

This is an engaging show, far better than its bland title indicates. Most of the work – created from the 1960s on – is boundary-breaking, either in its innovative use of materials, its refusal to be functional, or its trampling of traditional boundaries between art, craft and design. Although we now take a lot of these innovations for granted, the work here remains fresh and bold.

The ceramics are the most cohesive, compelling aspect of the show, beginning with the pioneering work of Peter Voulkos, who divorced ceramics from the need to be orderly, functional and pretty.

Also notable are Viola Frey’s painterly ceramics sculptures and funny, often outrageous works by David Gilhooly, Robert Arneson, and other Funk movement artists.

Mint Museum Uptown; mintmuseum.org; 704-337-2000; through Feb 22.