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The Art Capades 

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“I dreamt that I was a butcher and that you were not a bitch,” by Chris Tracy, right, and a detail from Potter-Belmar Labs’ “Three Aethers at the Center of the Sphere” left.
The Three Aethers at the Center of the Sphere
By appointment
Through Apr 27
Three Walls
106D Blue Star, Building B

The Best Things in Life are Free (with Purchase)
By appointment
Through May 7
Fl!ght Gallery
1906 S. Flores

As long as modern wo/man has existed, we’ve sought ways to escape our earthbound bodies and contemplate being. On the pop-culture end of things, Dickens’s Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come and the Starship Enterprise serve similar functions: a mirror with the illusion of perspective. With lighting, plywood, gold paint, and video screens, Potter-Belmar Labs has turned Three Walls gallery into another type of space-and-time transcending machine that feels like an abandoned command station at the center of the universe.

High on one wall, a sun pulses a little ominously; on another, at weeding level, blues and greens undulate like a kaleidoscope in the middle of a repeating pattern of stylized leaves. A volcano-like mountain of plywood and material protrudes from the third wall — its video is the most entrancing and disturbing; the mutating grainy black-and-white image makes me consider how the beginning of a mushroom cloud resembles a human brain stem. A perforated ball suspended in the middle of the room suggests centering in pulsating whispers; the gallery seems to hum as if it’s powered by a giant invisible generator.

“We wanted the space to be scaleable,” says P-B sound artist Jason Jay Stevens. “Like maybe you’re visiting an atom, or inside the human psyche, or maybe this is the universe.”

Stevens isn’t sure that he and P-B partner Leslie Raymond were completely successful, but I think they aren’t far off, in large part because the video monitors are well-integrated with the physical installation. The rough edges, the fact that you can tell the art is constructed with inexpensive or even found materials, adds a warm human element that encourages more than dispassionate observation. What future traveler wouldn’t care about the primitive creatures who inhabited this beautiful world?

You still have a couple of days to step into this entrancing installation and see what you come up with.

Chris Tracy’s brightly colored faux-folk paintings at Fl!ght gallery wallow in baser, if no less interesting, aspects of the human condition: jealousy, nostalgia, absurdity, obsession. There’s Mr. Rogers, secular patron saint of our exhausted mothers, with King Friday on his knee. Across the way, in a style reminiscent of children’s-book illustrations, a butcher dices octopus tentacles while the six-legged amputee dons a hat and makes for the door. In another image, Snow White sits on a wave in a stormy sea like the subject of a Japanese screen painting. The quality of the work is a little uneven, but the dark, pre-Christianized, fairy-tale spirit (and the prices) make Tracy’s first one-man show well worth your time. 

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September 23, 2020

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