Karen Acker must be the "(or not)" part of Galerie Francoise's current five-sculptor show, titled "Whimsy (or not);" all the other sculptors could conceivably be thought whimsical, but Acker's work is positively scary.
Her surrealist parts of bodies, made of porcelain and perched on spindly legged bases, are like nightmares of what might happen to us, physically and otherwise. Her "Trunk" is just that -- a headless and limbless trunk, wrapped as if in bandages. The mummified piece is a reminder of the endlessness of death, of all kinds of things that can befall us, and of how constricted our lives are, compared to what they might be. Looking at it, one wants to use one's arms and legs and senses more than ever before, because soon enough one won't be able to use them at all.
Her "Trap" is a body with holes in it, again suggesting how the body breaks down with time, but also the kinds of "holes" or flaws that are not seen -- of character, for instance. The branches attached as animal-like legs remind us that we share much with the rest of creation, including our mortality.
These thought-provoking works look a little out of place in what is otherwise a more lighthearted show, but I wouldn't want them absent from the show; they provide a foil of sorts, and besides they're good -- they're worth seeing, whatever the context.
Otherwise, there's fun. Chris Gavin's furniture of gray forged steel (and occasionally other materials) has a look that's part art nouveau and part medieval, but original, too. His "Lamp" in the shape of a tree and his glass-topped "Table" are his most effective pieces.
Bill Epton has a plan for a topiary version of the figures in Seurat's masterpiece "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." He has made tiny maquettes in aluminum, full-sized armatures for the topiary, a drawing of the proposed work. As individual works of art these don't say much in themselves; it's the concept that's fascinating, and how exciting to think that someday it might be realized. Perhaps in a park
Dave Moreland's "Pope's Misnomer" is a column plastered with paper images -- of artworks, automobiles, animals, etc., then daubed with paint. There are implications here about the history of art, the commingling of high and low culture, the globalization of ideas.
David Friedheim's four heads of painted steel are indeed whimsical but also a little facile.
'Whimsy (or not)'
Where: Galerie Francoise et ses freres, Green Spring Station, Falls and Joppa roads.
When: Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Aug. 31.
Call: (410) 337-2787.