Art exhibit sheds light on the enlightenment

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Artists Galen Garapolo and Rick Smith share an interest in how shapes and forms relate to each other. But where Smith's work is conceptual, Garapolo's deals on a more subtle, emotional plane. Both are currently on exhibit at Morava Studios.

In "Icon," Smith asks difficult questions about enlightenment values. The central male figure is being dismantled. His right eye is missing, and an enlarged version can be found in the upper right corner. In the lower left, we see the underlying musculature, which gives a distinctly modern feel?#34;like a picture out of an anatomy textbook?#34;but also brings to mind the renaissance ideal of the perfectly sculpted body. These two images jangle, serving as a reminder of how much of our culture of illness reflects a deeply ingrained belief in the perfectibility of humans.

References to the human intellect include geometric shapes, writing in the form of newsprint set into the body, and a mathematical equation scrawled into the paint. Above, near the eye, are three human brains, which seem to have been piled on top of each other rather carelessly. In the upper left, an idyllic renaissance scene appears, set into the surrounding paint, like a window into the past. A dark hooded figure, like a spook, is looking in, and overlaying the scene is what could be the readout of an electrocardiograph machine.

We're forced to question the idyllic scene, which certainly isn't difficult with modern sensibilities more attuned to the cynical. All the signs of intellect gone awry bring meaning to the central symbol, repeated in many of Smith's collages, of wings on the back of the male figure. We're like Icarus, who made wings so he could fly, then was tempted to fly too close to the sun.

Garapalo does small, highly textured, abstract triptychs, which means that they come in sets of three. Each piece in a set has similar parts, but they've been rearranged, leading to subtle shifts in meaning. In "Santa Fe Fugue," each piece has two black triangles and a red circle. In #2, the red circle is set directly above the point of one triangle, as if it's about to fall down and be skewered. The other triangle is a thin sliver, flying through space and about to pierce the circle. The feeling is one of great danger.

In #3, the two triangles are set one above the other, creating a wall. The feeling is claustrophobic, as the red ball, lacking access to most of the canvas, is forced to drop straight down. In #1, the triangles are set next to each other, with a cozy little nook in between. One of the triangles has become very long with a line extending out to where the circle is. The impression is of cooperation, as if it's seeking to guide the circle into the nook. The overall message is that emotional health is merely a slight rearrangement of the elements.

Smith and Garapalo will be on exhibit at Morava Studios, 11 Harrison St., until June 20. Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Remember, this weekend is "What's Blooming on Harrison," when all the Harrison Street galleries throw open their doors and welcome visitors. The spring celebration is Friday from 6 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 12 to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. There will also be music and food available.

?#34;Anna Poplawska

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