The Fussy Eye: Auto Ego

The broken furniture and massed BMX bikes in the front gallery of Sean M. Johnson's new show can be digested in a glance, but when you venture into the back at "This Growing Up Stuff . . . ", you may find yourself on the floor, scrutinizing his most intricate and interesting work in the group. I Was Nine is composed of over 1,600 miniature cars; it's a color-coded, pointillist portrait rendered in Hot Wheels®, guaranteed to bring out the 9-year-old in any guy. (Women may not care so much.) Look! There's a tiny fire truck! And a Ford GT-40! Each one of these toys represents hours and hours of childhood playtime, and it's a bit of a shock to realize they're still manufactured today. Do boys still race them around on the floor, making engine sounds, in preference to V-Rally 3 on Xbox? We can only hope. Johnson's collage speaks to the same total absorption that kids bring to play—the patience and love of repetition that seems to disappear with adolescence. The outside (adult) world doesn't exist. Here, each little auto has been idled, literally parked, though they beg for movement—a finger's propulsion across the floor. They're the components of a naive younger self, but you can only see the whole pattern when standing at adult height. Most of Johnson's other sculptural objects on view, like a chair cut in half, speak to the grown-up world, where stuff is cheap, costly, or unreliable. No wonder he wants to reassemble a part of his childhood. (Through May 1.)

 
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