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June 20th, 2007 RICHARD SPEER | Visual Arts
 

Good Slop/Bad Slop

Anna Fidler finesses the line while others falter.

     
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There is a good way to be sloppy and a sloppy way to be sloppy. Anna Fidler's Mistique: New Works on Paper at Pulliam Deffenbaugh is improvisatory but not slapdash, childlike but not amateur. In her fantastical landscapes, she cuts and layers paper into multicolored shapes that manage to look crude and intricate at the same time. Casting Spells is a riot of rainbows, crystalline surfaces, craggy mountains and caves of ice. Sam Coleridge or Dr. Seuss would be equally at home in such kindergarten-on-laudanum terrain. Fidler has been exploring this general style for many years, but she's blasted it into hyperspace in this outing, surely her most accomplished, adventurous and integrative to date. 929 NW Flanders St., 228-6665. Closes June 30.

Elizabeth Huey's Chronophobia at Quality Pictures aims for the same looseness Fidler does but misses the mark when she ventures out of her depth. In her cluttered jumbles of sloppily painted figures and buildings, the Williamsburg, N.Y.-based artist attempts a commentary on fin de siècle psychiatric wards, teeming with Proustian ghosts who haunt the medical history books. Thematically, this material could have legs, but Huey hobbles it; the technique is poor, the composition a mess, the trestle between conception and execution dynamited like the bridge over the River Kwai. 916 NW Hoyt St., 227-5060. Closes June 30.

Also erring on the unfortunate side of the impetuous/sloppy divide is Ogle's David Hacker. While Hacker's darkly beautiful charcoal drawings are arguably more charismatic than Brad Cloepfil's utilitarian drawings at PDX (see WW's Visual Arts section, June 13, 2007) his painted scrap-metal sculptures should have stayed on the drawing board and in the junkyard. I have seen aluminum recycle bins with more artful composition. Starting with a car wreck for materials, Hacker winds up with a train wreck of a show. (310 NW Broadway, 227-4333. Closes June 30.) At Mark Woolley, Brian Mock also uses discarded metal and found objects to create sculptures. His craftsmanship is superior to Hacker's, but his cloyingly whimsical mermaids, dogs and female figures send our blood sugar through the roof—Woolley should have provided complimentary vials of insulin. 128 NE Russell St., 224-5475. Closes June 30.

 
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