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CENTERpiece Gallery’s ‘Size & Scale’ is perfect for the holidays

Image
Tony Oursler’s “Escape No. 328”

The Details

Size & Scale: 3D Objects
three stars
Through January 14; daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; free
CENTERpiece Gallery, at CityCenter, 739-3314

The Strip beckons locals more than usual this time of year, as out-of-town visitors and holiday shopping pull many of us to the belly of the beast. If you find yourself dodging tourists at CityCenter, duck out of the cold and into CENTERpiece Gallery for a nice respite from seasonal mania with Size & Scale: 3D Objects.

Group shows are not unpopular during gift-giving season, and Size & Scale follows the survey model. While a bit uneven, the selection of mostly three-dimensional works gives a tasty little sampling of some seriously heavy hitters.

It can take a few days to shake off mixed-media artist Tony Oursler, whose work has a peculiar ability to burrow into the brain like a recurring dream. “Escape No. 328” exemplifies Oursler’s gift for isolating an uncannily anthropomorphic experience of media (particularly television) and turning its signifiers inside out. The artist’s disembodied face is projected onto an egg-like structure crowned (or is it trapped?) by a halo of TV aerials, pontificating to an unknown audience. The speech is redundant and vaguely familiar, begging the question: Do we shape media or does exposure to media predetermine language, memory and thought?

Several Claes Oldenburg lithographs add a lighthearted touch, but 1967’s “Punching Bag” is an unexpected delight. The piece is a surprising example of the pop sculptor’s predilection for using scale and materiality to warp the import and utility of everyday objects. Most notable for soft sculpture of the same period, Oldenburg’s cardboard and Styrofoam bisection of a boxer’s punching bag has fresh relevance given its humble solidarity with recent sculptural trends toward modest materials.

I’m a sucker for ceramic genius Ken Price. Two small, beautifully pigmented organic forms, “Baby Green” and “Curley,” are fine examples of what Price does so well: create objects that are simultaneously funny, utterly naïve, genuinely sweet and thoroughly perverse.

Size & Scale includes some excellent two-dimensional work, with typically collage-like screenprints by Robert Rauschenberg, and a trippy Ryan McGinness psychedelic silk-screen. But a luminous screenprint by Price, “Western Sunset,” outpaces the others with its hypnotic West Coast light. And Jenny Holzer’s colorfully antagonistic “10 Inflammatory Essays”—a set of 10 offset posters on paper—is a quite timely remix of the early American revolutionary pamphlet.

Much of the work comes at figuration from an oblique angle, as with Johathan Borofsky’s “Heart Light (scale C),” a MacGyver’d lamp that flashes neon to the rhythm of a beating heart. Oldenburg, Price and even Oursler give a nod to the body as point of reference.

Size & Scale: 3D Objects isn’t perfect, but it’s a perfect holiday hideaway for cozy winter days on the Strip.

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Danielle Kelly

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