At Edward Cella Art + Architecture. Shows through February 17.

Peter Cole's "Darkstar Souvenir" (2006).

This 10-person group show takes as its point of departure the 19th-century notion of art as just one facet of a world view developed through collecting odd objects. Each contributor has fashioned something that pricks the surface of identity to expose the fact that assimilation, while it makes a nice ideal, is messy in practice.

Ethan Turpin is represented by his ingenious and historically aware stereopticon project, titled “Stereocollision,” and by one of the photo collages he has created by standing and turning his body, this one called “Buzzard Hill: Summer Solstice on Ballard Fields Ranch, 12:00 pm, 2003.” From Cecilia Paredes there’s a powerfully suggestive, large-format photograph showing her as a gnome in a forest. Although Paredes often investigates the structural analogies and visual symmetries of the human body and natural artifacts, “Gnome,” from 2006, appears more indebted to the implied narrative tradition of Cindy Sherman.

Franco Mondini-Ruiz has a witty, astringent approach. His suite of cleverly titled small paintings is accompanied by a virtuosic series of objects grouped under the heading “Mexican Modern Art.” These pieces are replicas of famous American art works of the 20th century rendered in the papier-m•che and curly fronds of the pi±ata. The “Mondrian Pi±ata” looks like a painting, and the “Warhol Pi±ata” looks like a big soup can, but do Jeff Koons’s metallic bunnies look like they are crying out to be smashed at your next birthday party? Now they do.

Kofi Cole’s marvelous miniature African masks are the product of decades of study and dedication to the craft of carving, but they take their dignity and force from the intelligence with which their creator has thought through the myriad questions raised by the concept of authenticity in indigenous art. Cole’s son Peter, a gifted assemblage artist, also pursues a tangent that’s a few degrees deviated from traditional African art. His contribution to the recent Sonotube exhibition at CAF, “Darkstar Souvenir” (2006), looks even better here than it did six months ago. Richard Aber’s grids and constructs wreak subtle havoc on the hard-line material constraints of minimalism, making convincing Donald Judd boxes out of cloth and gold paint. Joan Tanner, Miriam Wosk, and Pauline Wiertz all also contribute sophisticated work to this very satisfying and provocative exhibition.


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