Wrong Sounding Stories is a wacky show. Rounding out a season of history-based exhibits, Adam Mysock applies his own artistic equivalent of genetic engineering to some well-known history paintings reworked to feature Abraham Lincoln in a starring role. For instance, his remake of Emanuel Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware is very similar to the original, and his deft brushwork insinuates an "old master" touch, but yes, that's Lincoln's head on Washington's torso. And that vague glint in the distance is a motorcycle doing a wheelie. Some less famous originals may prove more amenable to this approach. Elihu Vedder's mystical 1863 painting, Questioner of the Sphinx, depicts a traveler from the past with his ear pressed to the Sphinx's lips as if awaiting an oracular revelation, only here he has Lincoln's head as mythic dancers cavort around a golden calf in the background. An accompanying Bible quote, "And there was a famine in the land and Abram went down into Egypt ..." is typically zany, but not as much as his remake of Whistler's Mother with Lincoln dressed as Whistler's mom. While Mysock's nihilistic approach may be liberating in some ways, anything that suggests an attempt to fabricate history may inadvertently put him in the same boat with Rupert Murdoch, Fox News and the Tea Party despite his best philosophical intentions.
Less flashy but no less unusual are Rieko Fujinami's black-and-white mixed-media portraits in the back gallery. Their gray-black pigments on mottled surfaces come across as psychological expressions of inner states as much as, or perhaps more than, actual likenesses, and even the most affable visages exude a wintry Kierkegaardian gravitas, a sense of forbearance in the face of some looming shadowy void. However one interprets either of these artists' current efforts, they both bring an unusual level of technical proficiency to bear on their subject matter, which in turn inspires interest in where they will go from here. — D. Eric Bookhardt
Through July 27
Wrong Sounding Stories: Paintings by Adam Mysock;
Eternal Moment: Drawings by Rieko Fujinami
Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia St., 522-5471; www.jonathanferraragallery.com