Snap Downtown’s second opening is sexy, brash and playful – but not lightweight 

Snappy comebacks

click to enlarge Reine Paradis – "7-11"

Reine Paradis – "7-11"

For the second opening at Snap's downtown satellite galleries, Patrick and Holly Kahn didn't lean out. In the gallery spaces sited on the ground floor of a new apartment building, it would be very easy to simply hang what's sometimes derisively called "couch art" – decorative canvases and photo prints with no real soul or artistic point of view. But with their usual grit, Snap has done the hard work of actual curation. Hewing to their own artistic point of view, in this second set of three exhibitions they introduce an international and local roster of artists, in a mix of media.

Innovative photography is foremost, as is Snap's wont, but there's also painting, sculpture and digital art. Much of it is sexy, brash and playful, yes; that's also Snap's style, and frequent Snap opening attendees won't be let down. But disposable pop this isn't. The centerpiece show, Constructed Abstractions, bites into the viewer's psyche with pretty teeth that are nonetheless sharp.

Dana Hargrove's acrylic-on-board constructions cut deeper than their candy colors; the Rollins art professor relocates or dislocates familiar spaces by remixing them almost unto unrecognizability. Reine Paradis also sneaks some medicine into her spoonful-of-sugar photos – it's so easy to succumb to the poppy gloss of her highly stylized self-portraits that one might gloss right over their essentially frantic tone, as the photographer-as-model slots herself into various attractive yet dangerous positions. And Stephane Fedorowsky's photocollages are spooky dreamscapes, with that haunting ability of the surreal to seem truer than the real. Soothing the brain after all that skewed reality, Shelley Lake's digital installation recalls a 21st-century Rothko, glowing with a technological assist.

The "abstractions" of the title don't align with the Art History 101 definition – there's plenty of representation here – rather, perhaps, to the preoccupied state induced by the bright forms and volumes of Paradis' self-referentiality, Hargrove's evocations of place, Fedorowsky's introspection and Lake's smooth serenity. If you feel in need of some grounding after allowing these works to wash over you, just elevator up to the rooftop pool deck, where the classic art-opening drinky singles mingle will bring you back to earth.

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