The Art Capades 

The Three Aethers at the Center of the Sphere
By appointment
Through Apr 27
Three Walls
106D Blue Star, Building B
212-7185

The Best Things in Life are Free (with Purchase)
By appointment
Through May 7
Fl!ght Gallery
1906 S. Flores
276-2586
Turnitoff.tv/

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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