Visual Arts Picks

SUSAN BENNERSTROM

The Seattle artist's oil pastels of interior and outdoor spaces have evolved into such refined studies of pattern, form and color that it's a stretch to call them realist. Like the 1930s precisionist paintings of Charles Sheeler and Georgia O'Keefe, Bennerstrom's art is clean and formalist, but never cold. In the series "Bed," inspired by the work of Bellingham poet Suzanne Paola, wrinkled bedsheets and other domestic scene are cropped and staged in such a way that they take on sculptural, almost monumental qualities. The rooms become potent with a kind of peaceful but unsettled emptiness: The lovers are gone, but their anxieties, their whispered allegiances remain. One of my least favorite clichés in writing is to talk about "a slant of light"—but those darned slants are everywhere in Bennerstrom's work, and they're executed with such skill and originality that they resist becoming tiresome. In a second series, "River," (which I have yet to see previews of) Bennerstrom applies the same quiet, formalist approach to the dynamic world of water, which should be a tough order. Opening Reception: 6 p.m- 8 p.m. Thurs. May 6. Davidson Galleries, 313 Occidental Ave. S., 206-624-7684. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sat. ANDREW ENGELSON

60-WATT FAIRY TALES

Do you suspect that in the dark of night your teddy bear comes alive and stands at the foot of your bed larger than life? Want confirmation? Go see Anna Daedalus' show of photographs, "60-Watt Fairy Tales." Daedelus masterfully intertwines the realms of childhood and adulthood using light and shadow and a number of stuffed-animal costumes. With scenes generally consisting of two key players, Daedalus juxtaposes the mundane and the alien, mixing real figures with the mytho-poetic. (Sleeper is shown above.) The almost transparent dryad in Vacuum is burdened with housecleaning while in Untitled I bears seek shelter in urban settings. Her characters breach the neatly drawn borders between the pragmatic demands of the urban day-to-day and the otherworldliness of night. In Daedalus' world, no man or beast is all bad: While the six-foot bunnies are no longer cuddly creatures, her bears are civilized enough to take home and tuck into bed. Daedalus constructs theatrical, fairy-like props out of dry twigs, plastic, duct tape and wire. Posing with her oversized leaf boats and attachable insect wings, she makes little attempt to disguise the tricks of her trade: In Ariadne, an electric yellow shutter-release cable snakes its way along the ground and conveys its female protagonist's modern and multi-purpose thread. In her "Moth Series," humans bedecked in silvery-white garb give in to the pull of glowing lamps. Her photos have some of that same fatal attraction. Bryan Ohno Gallery, 155 So. Main St., 206-667-9572, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Wed.-Sat. Ends. Sat. May 8. SUZANNE BEAL

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