Not every local artist blazes forth with an eccentric personality (Tom Cramer) or dramatic stylistic shift (Joe Thurston) or political agenda (Arvie Smith) that demands immediate attention. Some artists fly under the radar, their impact registering cumulatively only after they reach a certain critical mass. Derli Barroso and Elise Wagner are two such artists.
Barroso is a talented Brazilian-born photographer now living in Brooklyn, New York. Of his four solo shows at Ogle in as many years, his current outing is his strongest, combining his enamorment with tropicalia, his inherently sexy viewpoint, and his facility with computer manipulation in the service of neo-surrealist de- and reconstructions of his chosen medium. The artist digitally manipulates images such as Near the End of the World (taken in Patagonia), outlining the fjord and mountains in a way that hightens the drama of this almost alien landscape. Barroso takes a similar tack in The Woman and the Sea , in which he ennobles the work's eponymous beachcomber in a digital nimbus, transubstantiating waves into froths of painterly white. The beach (specifically Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana) is the setting for the show's tour de force, a multi-photo installation recording a day in the life of the famous strand. The broad panorama terminating in Sugarloaf Mountain yields on closer view to voyeuristic vignettes of hundreds of Carioca frolicking in the surf en masse. Careful eyes are rewarded with the unexpected appearance of a nude sunbather cavorting on the strand, a sort of "Where's Waldo" moment tarted up with T&A. Barroso has a fine conceptual modus operandi and a Brazilian's innate sense of sun-drenched sensuality, well showcased in this superb show. 310 NW Broadway, 227-4333. Closes Sept. 1. For years, Elise Wagner has produced reliably well-executed encaustic work. Arguably, she is still awaiting a breakout star turn, but with each show she gets closer. At Butters Gallery 's 19th anniversary group show, her Initializing Barcode series riffs on subatomic particles, with motifs shot through them that vaguely resemble musical notation marks. Wagner says that these enigmatic abstract pieces are her response to the war in Iraq, a claim that somewhat strains the imagination—and yet, what artist's explanation of their work's genesis doesn't strain the imagination? Wagner is a gifted painter who is at her best when, as in the Barcode pieces, she counters the encaustic process' obfuscating sfumato with a focus on concept, composition and a resulting congealment of liquidities. 520 NW Davis St., 248-9378. Closes Sept. 1.