Dan Gilsdorf's Interiotrope is a cross between Fritz Lang's Metropolis and T.C. Boyle's The Road to Wellville, with a smidgeon of Edgar Allan Poe thrown in. When you walk around each corner of this dystopian horror house of retro-industrial Rube Goldberg devices, you never know who or what you'll run into. A mad mathematician bent on global domination? A raven that's been butchered and stitched back together? A psychotic proctologist wielding an enema bag with your name on it? Gilsdorf's darkly inventive gifts have never been so boldly and bleakly on display as in this solo show, his first since a virtuoso turn at the late, great Gallery 500 three years ago. The artist is even more assured now, if no less mysterious in his imagery and intent. What are we to make of a crow's feather hooked up to a motor, methodically wiping oil back and forth as it drips down from a hole in the wall? Or a bare light bulb rotating, casting moonlike silhouettes—while, across the gallery, a chandelier drags its crystals through a pool of black grime. At the opening, Gilsdorf avoided assigning meaning to the show, insisting it's more about formalist concerns than embedded symbolism. That sounds a trifle coy to us, but regardless, this is an astounding show. Gilsdorf's day job is as a tattoo artist at Atlas Tattoo, but we think he ought to relocate to L.A. and become Tim Burton's creative director.

At Worksound, Horia Boboia's installation offers a tour into the spooky, jumbled Pandora's box of artists' studios—and minds. There's a surrealistic quality to the overturned chairs, sit-up balls and strobe-lit Old Master paintings, to say nothing of the sculpture in which a sheep perches atop sheep's wool on a platter, which in turn teeters atop a wine glass on a pedestal resting on a sheet of paper. These are the obstacles a creative type has to somehow clear away to get to the blank slate at the bottom. How to do it? A looping video of a train endlessly choo-chooing along a railroad crossing seems an analogy for creative block. As Boboia knows and ably demonstrates, the artist's life is far from an easy one.


at Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate Ave., 286-9449. Closes Dec. 28. Horia Boboia at Worksound, 820 SE Alder St. Closes Nov. 29.