July 2013 First Friday roundup 

click to enlarge Dana Sofie, "Dorothy"
  • Dana Sofie, "Dorothy"

Portraits: Dana Sofie
Two-Thirds Studio through Aug. 30
4 stars
It's amazing, what Sofie does with mixed media on wood, mixing dead-on portraiture with collage, reminding me somewhat of Mike Graves's collaborations with Justin Cooper. The collage backdrops to her paintings give you the impression of walking into a young girl's room and seeing photos of her heroes on the walls. But Sofie's subjects aren't all movie stars (although Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz numbers among them). Her subjects also include serial murderer John Wayne Gacy and Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Kahlo seems to be a major source of inspiration for this gifted artist, who will begin attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago this Fall.

Alfred Eaker: La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura
Indy Indie Artist Gallery through July 29
3 stars (out of 5)
There's something weird going on conceptually with Alfred Eaker's oil painting "Pieta." It shows, as usual, the Virgin Mary cradling a dead Jesus, but Christ appears to have female breasts. Eaker does a lot with a limited palette in the painting; you see dashes here and there of orange leap out against the blue. I wish that there were more paintings like this in this show. Too often the paintings are defined by a psychedelic, lava lamp abstraction that varies little from painting to painting.

click to enlarge Jeannine Allen, "Abyss"
  • Jeannine Allen, "Abyss"

Portraits of Passion: New Figurative Paintings by Addie Hirschten
The Sanctuary; email fantasticfables@gmail.com for times
3 stars
There are a great many paintings in this show but "Full Many a Glorious Morning I have seen" - inspired by Shakespeare's Sonnet 33 - is among the best. You see a man and a woman against a landscape where the sun is low on the horizon. The colors are bold and dark and provide good contrast with the flesh tones in the foreground. The light on the woman's face could be sunlight - or love. While many other paintings seem more like painting studies than completed work, there's enough here to make you believe that passion still exists, somewhere.

In the Offing: New work by Jeannine Allen
Harrison Center for the Arts through July 26
4 stars
It might just be a chasm topped by a horizon line on which there are sparks of red suggestive of a sunset. Or maybe something else. Allen used joint compound and a palette knife as well as oil paint and brush to create "Abyss"; it's a painting that you want to touch as well as eyeball. Many paintings here feature what look like horizon lines, but the intuitive painting process leaves a lot to the imagination.

click to enlarge Paul D'Andrea, "Nine Reflections"
  • Paul D'Andrea, "Nine Reflections"

Etikette Exotica: New work by Marna Shopoff, Melissa Hopson, Michael Helsley
Harrison Center for the Arts through July 26
3.5 stars
Also at FoodCon: A show that involves painting (Shopoff), sculpture (Hopson) and photography (Helsley), all rather loosely congealing on the theme of travel and food. Shopoff's painting "Monon Fitness" concerns a less than exotic locale, but one that may transform into something more inhabited in the near future. Helsey has photos of various blue collar joints located far off main thoroughfares. And then there's Hopson's not-quite-abstract sculpture "O," visualizing both the place from which we emerge into the world and (more figuratively) the orifices we stuff with various types of nourishment.

Ten at M10: INvision: Alliance of Photographic Artists
M10 Gallery , call 443-3792 for times
3.5 stars
This exhibit's premise involved the exhibited photographers picking numbers out of a hat from one to 10 and choosing subjects for their photos that have something to do with that number. A variety of creative compositional approaches are seen; check out Paul D'Andrea's "Nine Reflections," where you see a boy walking down a city street, in front of a large office building, into a swarm of reflected sparkles of sunlight.

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