Review: Chimaera's Attic 

click to enlarge MaryAnne Nguyen's "Gold Chained Hearts vs. Pearls."
  • MaryAnne Nguyen's "Gold Chained Hearts vs. Pearls."

Primary Gallery, through April 20

The inspiration for this show is a Chimaera - a fire-breathing amalgam of multiple animals, according to Greek mythology. The Indy-based artists, all female, who contributed one work apiece to this show, weren't necessarily interested in channeling this fantastical creature from Greek mythology into their work in a literal way. Nevertheless, many works here seem like they could have been inspired by William Faulkner's conception of a Chimaera, "as a woman who dreams... and has illusions of fabrications of the mind."

Such is Blythe Noble Hager's two-canvas oil painting "Reliquary at the Peak of Mt. Indianapolis" On the top canvas you see various objects - rings, teeth, razor blades, thumb-sized cats - laid out on a table like collector's items, divorced from any context. On the bottom canvas you see a mysterious desert environment hung with traffic lights and power lines while in the distance you can see the Indy skyline. This painting is inspired by the struggles with Alzheimer's that Hager's mother endured.

Nicci Herren's "Descend Into" is another landscape-based painting - in oil and pencil - stunning in detail, enigmatic in meaning; it portrays a bridge under construction against the backdrop of an overwhelmingly vast sky. MaryAnne Nguyen's "Gold Chained Hearts vs. Pearls," is more whimsical in its depiction of a gold-chained tiger and a pearl-bedecked bear bearing their teeth at each other against an abstract background. It begs the question: are we all really just savage beasts under our skin? I can't help but think that a show of all-male artists, riffing on the same subject matter, might have been ten times as sexualized but half as interesting.

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