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Review: Kyle Ragsdale's Tableaux 

***1/2
click to enlarge Kyle Ragsdale, 'Playing in the Streets'
  • Kyle Ragsdale, 'Playing in the Streets'

This show marks something of a new direction for Kyle Ragsdale, who, after attending Oxbow, the Art Institute of Chicago's summer camp, came back to Indy with some new ideas about painting. Banished from this show are his levitating, ghostlike figures in profile, parading against luminous backdrops with their top hats and parasols. And while many of his figures in this new series of paintings remain dressed in historical garb, the settings are more down to earth, but no less colorful, than those found in much of his earlier work.

In "Playing in the Streets I," you see three figures who look like they just stepped out of a James Whitcomb Riley poetry reading circa 1905 to find themselves stranded in 2012. (The setting is what looks to me like East Street, in front of the Lockerbie Central United Methodist Church.) The figures, two men and one woman quite literally playing in the street, are painted in Ragsdale's usual glancing, impressionistic style. Ragsdale had friends and family pose for photographs that he used as reference for this series. The result, it seems, are more relaxed and naturalistic depictions than those found in his previous work. With a newfound, consistent attention paid to linear perspective - creating a needed sense of depth - this show seem new and fresh. Through Nov. 31 at the Harrison Gallery at Harrison Center for the Arts

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