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Review: Kaori Maeyama’s urban landscapes

A show at Staple Goods explores local night scenes



Driving down desolate city streets on a dark night can be a dreary experience. But on misty, rain-cooled evenings there also are times when the reflections of random city lights dancing off the walls of shadowy buildings can make those same sights seem alive. The rhythmic flow of glistening city streets seen from a moving car can slip into an almost hypnotic realm reminiscent of dreamy ambient music or lyrical modern jazz riffs. Kaori Maeyama's nocturnal cityscape paintings at Staple Goods look starkly abstract at first, but in works like Through a Glass Darkly (pictured), dusky forms and luminous highlights suggest office towers, overpasses and traffic rendered with a cinematic sense of motion. In some, the steel trusses of the Huey P. Long bridge are conveyed by luminous slashes in inky patinas that evoke the dense mists over the Mississippi River. Chocolate City pulsates with the gritty incandescence of a city alive with random mirth, pathos and chaos fused into a single, sprawling organism with a collective life of its own. Inspired by photos taken through car windows, Maeyama's nocturnal cityscapes explore how external perceptions and our inner lives can influence each other. It's the latest leg of a personal journey that began when she first arrived here from Fukuoka, Japan in 1994.

  There are few shadows and fewer details left to the imagination in Leslie Friedman's colorfully overt graphics shown recently at Good Children Gallery. Sometimes described as "purposefully crass and annoying," her silkscreened nudes emerging from piles of diet soda cans and packets of Splenda are accompanied by a video loop of a masturbating woman. These works capture the nihilism of an age where addictive digital devices propagate titillation and rage even as actual physical addictions like opioids overwhelm an increasingly confounded public.

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