Visually infectious

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Visually infectious
Small Wonders
Through Feb. 1 at Latitude Zero Fine Art Gallery
113 N. Hyer Ave.

With a bang on a cold winter's night, Latitude Zero Fine Art Gallery started off the new year quite well with a group exhibition of 40 edgy artists who somehow conformed to curator Dustin Orlando's 10 inches-by-10 inches measurement guidelines. (Remember Orlando's first show in town, at Covert Skate Shop in late 2007 with a 12 inches-by-12 inches rule?) This holds true in the upstairs of the relatively new gallery, while a few artists also show larger works on the ground floor. Small Wonders has a street vibe, yet Latitude Zero mixed in photography, fine art and vintage pop collage to create an eclectic show that radiates warmth while informing us of the impending revolution.

Mathew Curran's large, untitled aerosol of a scream of rage and agony greets one at the front door, and anyone lucky enough to survive 2009 can certainly empathize with this tortured soul. He is counterbalanced by mostly humorous portraits by Sean Hartman and Scott K. MacDonald, culminating in a cigar-chomping Batman in "A Rough Day at the Office," by C. Kirk Smith. 

And then, eerie dolls stare with manga eyes in photographs by Isabel Ribeiro. Street deals are romanticized in beautiful color tones over collages by Dubelyoo, and Brandon McLean's pair of collages using vintage pop culture — newspaper ads, comic book covers, snippets from magazines — float serenely and delicately, exuding a comfortable sort of aura. These are images from our parents' or grandparents' youth, and they're a powerful reference point for today's work in this exhibition.

Upstairs, the 10 inches-by-10 inches rule allows eclecticism to work well. Look for Dubelyoo again with "She's Alright," Tobar's untitled chilly silhouette of a couple, Johnny Laderer's gorgeous little giraffes in "Mom & Pop," Johnny Robles' awesome floating "LOVE" machine, bird- and peach-haired women by Lucyfur, and other pieces by Terribly Odd, Adriaan Mol, DRES13 and others. Small size breeds high intensity, and many more are worth mentioning.

At once glitzy, romantic, gritty, spooky and alien-infested, new stories are born, new icons are created and old ones are being destroyed, and here there is a spark of life and color and fun. Portraiture — in particular the two by Plinio Marcos Pinto — can be objective and still find a valid place in the alienated, sci-fi affectations of the street. If Brandon Dunlap's antlered goddess (pictured on the first floor) truly rules over our dehumanized urban environment, she at least has a good sense of humor.

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