Friday, April 06, 2007

'Creatures' at Stairwell Gallery

Stairwell Gallery in Providence has up a fun show of Cute Brut art-dolls. The furry freaky dolls seem like the demons of childhood made manifest and cuddly and manageable. Or maybe they represent a retreat from the scary monsters of adulthood into the conquered fears of youth.

Providence artist Brian Chippendale’s plastic honey bear bottles are morphed and melted together. They’re like weird dream mutations – and stick in my mind.

Jessica Ciocci of the Easthampton, Massachusetts, collective Paper Rad hangs a selection of heart pillows with alien faces and Cabbage Patch doll bodies with mutant rainbow heads. They’re like feral interlopers from some ‘80s happy-happy-joy-joy kiddie galaxy, and harbor a buried threat: Are they cuddly like the Gremlin Gizmo or dangerous like Gremlins fed after midnight?

Many of the pieces seem like Uglydolls, but more punk. Providence artist Joan Wyand’s black beaver stands 7 or 8-foot-tall on its hind legs, with two rows of red plastic nipples (from squeeze bottles) running down its belly. Jacob Berendes of Worcester presents a collection of charming little beasties including a worm in a tuxedo and a hairy cyclops. Yvette Koch of Providence offers a two-headed bunny monster.

Providence artist Jill Colinan’s ladies in party dresses have Frankenstein’s Monster-patchwork faces with big creepy toothy smiles made of beads. There’s also some screenprinted Victorian goth chic dolls by Xander Morro of Providence and a tiny bead bug by CF of Providence.

“Creatures,” Stairwell Gallery, 504 Broadway, Providence, through April 8, 2007.


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