Most of the artist collectives at 319 N. 11th Street have now reopened in their original gallery spaces after last June's fire — and it's more or less business as usual for the start of the new year, although readers seeing this column in the Sunday paper will have just missed Practice's first return show, which ran Dec. 1-30.
Grizzly Grizzly reopens Jan. 5 with a solo show of large-scale drawings and collages by Baltimore artist Zoë Charlton. Other mainstays — Vox Populi, Napoleon, Automat, and Marginal Utility — all have shows running this weekend and well into January.
Let's start with Vox Populi. As it typically did before the fire disrupted things, the gallery is back to presenting four solo shows, this time by collective members Mina Zarfsaz, Jay Muhlin, and Kristen Neville Taylor, plus a collaborative installation by invited artists Ellie Hunter and Shana Hoehn.
Zarfsaz's Dead Ringer consists of five sculptures displayed in a row and separated by rectangular mirrors. The works are constructed from everyday objects and handmade ones — there are louvered metal air vents and rubber molds of human feet — and they bring to mind any number of artists, all mashed up: Jessica Stockholder, Lucas Samaras, Robert Gober, Michelangelo Pistoletto.
I'd ordinarily be put off by such obvious references, but Zarfsaz's sources are so disparate and unambiguous they seem to constitute a new genre of openly celebrating one's influences.
Muhlin's multimedia installation Kid documents his relationship with a young girl he is helping to raise. His candid photos are lovely in their honesty and lack of pretense. The added elements of the installation — a chair, a swing, and banners — are just distractions from the absorbing photography.
Taylor's sculptures concern nature in its increasingly imperiled state. Some are fashioned from silver insulation, suggesting an armor against nuclear aggression.
Hunter and Hoehn's Bypass Manifesto did not make a strong whole from Hunter's three-dimensional works and Hoehn's piece, an ominous video with scenes of students drawing a female nude and scenes from a pharmacy waiting room.
At Automat, the multiartist group show "Fire Sale" offers works donated by the collective's members and others. Sales will benefit future programming.Works by Leigh Werrell, Aubrey Levinthal, Jacintha Clark, Clint Jukkala, and Abby King are standouts.
Practice's December show, "Wood," has been a fund-raiser, too, featuring artworks by collective members and others. Lewis Colburn's wall-mounted Two Wooden Objects (Lincoln's Nose + Stick) was one of my favorites. In it, a carved wooden nose based on Abraham Lincoln's is attached atop a shelf. Alongside it is a stick shaped like a profile of the president in a top hat.
Annette Monnier's ink drawing Deep Woods Dinner Party was another standout, depicting animals and elegantly dressed humans seated side by side at an outdoor banquet in the woods.
At Napoleon, Alexis Nutini's solo show "A Simple Task" displays his recent woodcut prints, which recycle his previous compositions in new color schemes. Nutini's maplike compositions suggest a hybrid of computer circuitry and 1950s fabric design motifs. He's also in "Wood" at Practice.
Marginal Utility's deeply esoteric shows have become less so. Its exhibition "Give Me a Light That I May Walk Safely Into the Unknown" is a collection of paintings by Josias Figueirido, whose intimate self-portraits and large-scale surreal scenes argue that painting is as relevant as ever.
Vox Populi, open noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, 216-238-1236 or voxpopuligallery.org. Current group show runs through Jan. 21.
Automat, open 2 to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 215-519-5994 or automatcollective.com. "Fire Sale" runs through Jan. 14.
Practice, open 2 to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. www.practicegallery.org.
Napoleon, open 2 to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. napoleonnapoleon.com. "A Simple Task" runs through Jan. 27.
Marginal Utility, open 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, www.marginalutility.org. Josias Figueirido show runs through Jan. 14.