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Review: New work at LeMieux Galleries and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art

D. Eric Bookhardt on Man, Myth, Monster and Maximalist and Naturalist


Ended June 28

Man, Myth, Monster

LeMieux Galleries, 332 Julia St., 522-5988;

Thru July 23

Maximalist and Naturalist: paintings by Mark Messersmith

Remedies: oil paintings by Alexa Kleinbard

Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St., 539-9600,

The allure of myths and monsters is eternal. Their presence in folklore and fairytales may have helped people mentally prepare for wars, plagues and storms through the ages. This LeMieux expo is an inventive survey of things monstrous transposed from the artistic imagination. For instance, in Carrie Ann Baade's Three Headed Tiger Cursing Heaven painting (pictured), a Bengal tiger in Elizabethan attire impersonates a Himalayan deity that somehow seems plausible in spite of itself. More inviting and good humored is Theresa Honeywell's Jackalope Girl tapestry featuring a busty cowgirl astride the giant antlered jackrabbit of prairie folklore, but Juan Carlos Quintana's Nurturing the Republic is Key to a Healthy Economy — a painting of a wild-eyed rabbit playing physician to a bedridden ragdoll — is the stuff of childhood nightmares. Elizabeth Chen's Rorschach, Mirror, Shark — a shark-shaped hanging mobile made of mirror-finished metal segments — suggests a menacing space age leviathan, lending a high-tech aura to this entertaining and thought-provoking curiosity cabinet of a show.

  Prismatic colors and high drama reign supreme at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Here Mark Messersmith's florid, manic swamp fantasies hold sway in paintings where city streets are besieged by giant gators and tropical beasts along with raging trucks under skies thick with exotic birds and the dark angels of ancient mythology. Carved wooden filigree and other protruding details make his zany mix of naturalism and kitsch seem to leap out at you. But if Messersmith's vividly hued fever dreams cause you to reach for Xanax, sanctuary can be found in Alexa Kleinbard's latter day naturalist fantasies, canvases in which depictions of wild herbs in their native habitat frame idyllic visions of natural landscapes like rococo paintings within paintings. The text panels are helpful, providing lots of useful information explaining which herbs can replace all those expensive prescriptions in your medicine cabinet. — D. Eric Bookhardt

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