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February 10th, 2010 RICHARD SPEER | Visual Arts
 

April Surgent at Bullseye, Alexis Mollomo at Ogle

Two new shows take on identity and demons.

     
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ALEXIS MOLLOMO’S I MIGHT SAVE YOU AT OGLE

It takes guts to look into the mirror and regard your best and worst features with equanimity. In April Surgent’s Reflect at Bullseye, the artist alternately reflects and deflects her identity and those of people around her. Her technique of carving through layers of fused glass is, much like psychoanalysis, a reductive method that must be handled delicately, lest the materials shatter. In The Passenger, she shows us a woman gazing at her reflection, clear-headed and self-aware. But in the immaculately composed four-panel work Night Crawler, shadowy figures prowl the foreground and background, the murky quality of the imagery suggesting half-repressed memories or a clouded self-concept. Intriguingly, Surgent hauled a large glass plate with her to locales around Seattle and photographed studies for many of these works through the glass. The resulting light play derives from this artifice: false but beautiful, like the aggregate of doubts and delusions of grandeur that give us the gumption to leave the house every day and engage the world.

Never one to shy from self-examination, painter Alexis Mollomo uses her sophomore show at Ogle, Keep a Snake in Your Pocket, to confront and exorcise the demons that haunt post-feminist women. Portraits of faces covered with hornets, butterflies and moss portray states of anxiety and torpor. Marriage shows a man and woman in a wicker boat on stormy seas, the woman vomiting up torrents of algae as her husband keeps on rowing. In I Might Save You, a mother, pushing a wheelbarrow filled with milk, stands frozen outside her house as the structure catches fire with her son trapped inside. Does she run into flames to rescue the boy? Abandon him? Or avoid the quandary altogether by diving down a dark hole only paces away, which may represent the option of suicide? This a dilemma rarely portrayed in art: the “oh shit!” moment when heroism and escapism become equally valid alternatives. Because humans are wired for hope, we expect the mother will snap out of her indecision and do what she would do in a Sandra Bullock film. Fortunately, Mollomo is more interested in ambiguity than Hollywood endings.


SEE IT: April Surgent at Bullseye, 300 NW 13th Ave. 227-0222. Closes March 20. Alexis Mollomo at Ogle, 310 NW Broadway. 227-4333. Closes March 27.
 
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