Walt Whitman eulogized the manifold charms of the open road; Kerouac, Cassady and Kesey sang its praises to their own beat; Nat King Cole got his kicks on Route 66; and Vladimir Nabokov, in Lolita, voiced the seedier undertones of the Western highway: ghost towns, run-down motor lodges and greasy spoons with flickering neon and tapioca meatloaf. Matt McCormick's future so bright at Elizabeth Leach takes us back down this road in projected photographs of desolate roadside scenes culled from the artist's travels. The projections, side by side, fill entire walls. Here, for once, is a show that fills Leach's cavernous front gallery effortlessly. McCormick has a perfect eye for these scenes of faded decadence, which veer hauntingly between tackiness and grandeur. 417 NW 9th Ave., 224-0521. Closes March 30. See music listings, page 35, for related event.
At Butters, Susan S. Hall shows portraits of women superimposed atop wallpaperlike decorative motifs. The paintings benefit from novel surface effects, but their palette and subject matter are snooze-inducing. Much peppier are Julie Rall's oil and powdered-pigment works on Plexiglas. These engaging abstractions integrate botanical imagery, Rorschach-like drips and washes of seepy color: a bracing turquoise in Copper Chestnuts, garden-fresh squash yellow and tomato red in Chestnuts. 520 NW Davis St., 248-9378. Closes March 31.
At Portland Art Center, Lon Mallozzi's sound installation, Interval, creeps you out with animal growls and the maddeningly repetitive sound of a piano being tuned. Stay in the room long enough and you'll swear you're in the Ligeti-scored orgy scene of Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. In the downstairs back gallery, Christine Wallers and Steve Peters' Alchemy features brass bowls hanging from the high ceilings, each bowl with a microphone affixed to its underside, the installation playing a quiet spoken-word piece in shifting aural tectonics. For a different element of the exhibition, the artists, channeling Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher's Learning to Love You More, asked hundreds of people to email them their fondest hopes for the future. Two books contain 300 of these responses, including such New Agey treacle as: "I wish all people would take care of the land," "I wish that children everywhere would be protected, nurtured, and empowered" and "I wish that man/woman/humankind will live in harmony and walk in beauty." My First Thursday companion summed the books up with three priceless adjectives: "warm, fuzzy and vomit-y." 32 NW 5th Ave., 236-3322. Closes March 30. RICHARD SPEER.