Fine Art

Man exhibit is a surprisingly fun romp through the tides of maleness

John Bell at Brett Wesley

With an exhibit titled The Male Mind, there’s no telling what you’ll be walking into. Anything from serious nods toward drumbeating Robert Bly fans to the Abstract Expressionist movement is on the table. But the 13-artist show at Brett Wesley Gallery focuses on all things male with a healthy dose of humor and confession, playing off the stereotypes, expectations, frustrations and aspirations of being male.

Right off the bat is writer Geoff Carter’s text piece, offering a prose-style, stream-of-consciousness spilling of what’s transmitting through the neurons. In between “stores dialogue from Quentin Tarantino and Bill Murray movies” and “wants to call mom” is “Dreams of being the smartest man in the room, the biggest badass in town and the richest man in the world.”

In John Bell’s wall installation, the phrase “Lost in The Divorce” glows loudly in pink neon over a faint trace of a painting that’s been removed. Brett Sperry’s black-and-white archival pigment print, “Field of Power,” has a young man brandishing a long fluorescent lightbulb like a sword, sticking out his chest and offering a barbaric grimace—a sort of schoolyard role playing that dangles between childlike fragility and forced machismo.

Lucky Wenzel’s image of a topless hipster with his hairy chest covered in lipstick kisses—presumably by the two girls sharing a black boa behind him—plays on the assumptions of a photographer’s life, while Curtis Walker’s “Bounce” offers a humorous look at what’s perhaps at the forefront of the male psyche.

The exhibit includes a rare local showing of neon works by Pasha Rafat, compositions that have energetic gases crisscrossing in precise patterns (in one, revealing voids at the intersection). Add to all of that an erotic latex paint sculpture by Chris Bauder and works from other artists on the Brett Wesley roster and you have a surprisingly fun romp through the tides of maleness.

The Male MindThrough January 31. Wednesday-Friday 1-7 p.m. and Saturday, 1-4 p.m. Brett Wesley Gallery, 433-4433.

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Kristen Peterson

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