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September 12th, 2007 RICHARD SPEER | Visual Arts
 

Model Behavior

Organism’s sophomore show impresses with restraint.

     
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Don’t come to Model Behavior looking for models of the Gisele Bündchen variety. This second outing for fledgling arts organization Organism is about a more conceptual kind of model: a model as an ersatz for the real thing, from which it is at least one step removed. This conceit forms the basis of an unusually restrained show from Organism’s founder, curator Jeff Jahn. If the show lacks the visceral wallop of previous Jahn shows such as Symbiont/Synthetic and The Best Coast , it succeeds in a quieter, more thought-provoking way. Each piece in this group show is a model of something else. Matthew Picton’s sculptural Baghdad shows the city via overlapping maps of the city throughout its tumultuous past and even more tumultuous present. Trevor Mahovsky and Rhonda Weppler’s aluminum-foil Shopping Cart is not immediately recognizable as such, smashed, as it is, on the floor: the three dimensional object reduced to a two-dimensional drawing. Yoram Wolberger casts plastic cows, sheep and bunnies, all cheap and amateur-looking, which must surely be part of the point—except that when Jahn, at the opening, began making comparisons to Michelangelo’s The Dying Slave , I knew the curator had overstepped the bounds of reality and ventured into some sort of hyperbolic la-la land. The show’s most intriguing work is Winter in America , Hank Willis Thomas and Kambui Olujimi’s stop-motion animation, which re-creates the actual 2000 murder of Thomas’ 28-year-old cousin. The work is suspenseful even if you know the young man is going to die in the end. Its crude, DIY feel offsets the gravitas of this very real crime, an effect both chilling and affecting. When Organism began, many assumed it would be “The Jeff Jahn Show,” but Model Behavior does not scream “Jeff Jahn.” To the extent that Organism needs to find its own identity, that’s a good thing. 1231 NW Hoyt St., #101. Closes Sept. 30. Francis Celentano will turn 80 next year, but his op art abstractions at Laura Russo are still fresh and fabulous. The current body of work, Cirque , a series of variations, vibrate in vertical waves, each ribbon modulating through various color combinations: blue to fuchsia to black to green in one example, ever so gradually shading. Celentano never met a color wheel he didn’t want to turn on end. He gleefully combines primary, secondary and tertiary colors with no regard for the consequences, relying perhaps a tad too much on neon and pastels. It’s exuberant, over-the-top work: busy, dizzying and vaguely nausea-inducing—but in a good way.
805 NW 21st Ave., 226-2754. Closes Sept. 29.
 
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