Arts & Culture » Arts

In the Galleries - Nowhere Backwards CLOSES November 17 at Des Lee


This group show featuring three printmakers — Cranbrook artist-in-residence Randy Bolton, University of Kansas professor Michael Krueger, and Washington University instructor and master printer Tom Reed — is a nature hike on acid. Forests are rendered in fuchsia, chartreuse and neon yellow; tree trunks crack open to reveal minute inner colonies of cabin-dwelling bears; large banners strapped onto branches read: "I've got you now you son of a bitch." The work of each artist couldn't be more distinct yet electrically complementary in this dense, bold, giddily weird display. Fastened with rawhide thongs to peculiar handcrafted poles, Bolton's screen-printed fabric banners partition the cavernous gallery into a maze, asking you to wander through its barrage of imagery and get a little lost. One banner depicts a rabbit calling a turtle's attention to signs lettered with virtues like "Beauty" and "Truth"; another shows the rabbit flat on his face at the end of a junk-strewn trail. Krueger's work (mostly lithographs) resembles exquisitely rendered colored-pencil drawings and depicts lush woods and streams, oversize moons and huge red planets. His palette is decidedly psychedelic, the subject matter lurching from tripped-out paradises to apocalyptic aftermaths and back. To look closely at his irradiated leaves is to appreciate their fine detail, but at the risk of blinding dizziness. Reed begs that you peer into his Russian-nesting-doll logic, where, say, a faux parchment scroll tears to reveal a dark, watery shore from which arises a half-constructed fort. Nostalgia informs all the works, youth-vernacular details such as chalkboards; word-find puzzles; snowmen; and roiling, crayon-colored planets. It all seems to suggest an engrossing storybook narrative, a shaggy-dog moral tale about the direct line from childhood playthings to existential morass. In other words: getting nowhere backwards — and savoring every step. Through November 17 at the Des Lee Gallery, 1627 Washington Avenue (University Lofts Building); 314-621-8735 or Hours: 1-6 p.m. Wed., Fri.-Sat. and by appointment.

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