Gang mentality

Faces of Stardust
Through Nov. 1
Stardust Video & Coffee
Free; 407-623-3393

Eric Sutton explained to me how, shooting these portraits, he held the camera a foot from each subject’s face and didn’t take the shot until the person reached the point of restless discomfort. The result is the current show at Stardust of 146 black-and-white photos of people who frequent the cliquish coffee shop/video store/hangout.

The fashion photographer said the project is still a work in progress, and the plan is to get at least 500 photos; the pictures taken to date are already on the walls. None of the images are for sale, though; they are a gift to 9-year-old Stardust in return for providing Sutton the scene of a significant part of his life.

I’ve done my time at Stardust. It’s a cultural oasis in Central Florida, where unorthodox commerce can struggle. It’s still the best (maybe the only) spot in Orlando to rent a foreign film, get a mixed drink or a Belgian beer and a healthy dinner, followed by a latte while talking to some local color and using the free wireless to look up the answers to a debate.

Sutton has documented Stardust’s intangible worth and wealth of characters very well.

Pat Greene

And then there were two

Dandy Artists
Through Oct. 27
Dandelion Communitea Cafe
Free; 407-362-1864

I’m not sure if Brigan Gresh’s art is constantly evolving or if it’s just not dictated by patterns of unnecessary restraint of style. Still, having seen much of her body of work – paintings, large installations, sculpture, assemblages and various mixed-media pieces – I have never had the feeling that I was witnessing anything watered down as a result of being prolific or diverse. Her creative constructions are always masterful and thought-provoking. Her mixed-media pieces displayed as a part of Dandelion’s monthly local artists exhibit reinforced my interest. For this show, her works were with fellow artists Genevieve Russell and Joshua Goldstein, and I took in the collaborative effort at the opening reception.

Gresh’s work in general appears playful; many pieces supply their own dim LED lighting for a haunting effect that can undermine the whimsy. 1969-First Goodbye resembles a toddler’s toy that could be recalled by the maker. Inside the small lighted box is the word DADDY in a shadowy display that’s more David Lynch than Toys “R” Us.

Russell’s mixed-media works are assemblages of what appears to be found images. She impressively captures a forlorn mood of (probably staged) nostalgia that suggests cryptic stories. Witness Your Future looks like a Ouija board knockoff, but with a creepy, look-what-I-found-in-Grandma’s-attic feel.

Goldstein’s mixed-media paintings also look wistful, and his artist’s statement mentions the influence of folk tales and fairy tales. In the Glimmer is a dreamy, preoccupied portrait of a melancholic male that suggests there’s more to the story.

The three artists display well together in the same setting – or, more accurately, they displayed well together: The Sunday evening after the Thursday opening, Gresh withdrew her pieces because several had been damaged. (Idiots.) Too bad, as the three artists shared a strong sense of narrative.

— Pat Greene

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