Accentuate the positive

Imaginings, a group show devoted to artists with disabilities at Arts for All Gallery, suggests life's setbacks have not necessarily translated to the largely bright, festive works by the artists. Typifying this trend toward loveliness, ceramic artist Paula Buford forms clay into bowls crafted of intertwined angels. She sums up some of the utopian strains in the work on display when she says, "We work to re-create a world where all persons are valued; all share power and resources for the common good."
Phyllis Walker's photographs of stained-glass church windows, a flower or a seashell are also representative of the gloss of optimism that dominates the show. While professional artists often decode and deconstruct art and society, these artists (both professional and not) are pleased just to render the world with realism and cheer.

Particularly charming in that regard are Sarah Hatch's pastels on tracing paper, whose ethereal subjects are well served by the frothy, delicate materials. Hatch has a taste for the theme of floating, and in "Landscape One: Small House, Floating," said house hovers like the buildings in one of Peter Garfield's photographs. The sweetly surreal tableaux, composed of the kind of perfect little trees you find on model railroad sets, combine quirkiness with a hint of psychological distress. The gravity defying continues in "Landscape Two: Small House, Floating Cat" where, sure enough, an adorable loaf of kitty with pin-dot Sanrio eyes floats rather nonchalantly above a green landscape. It's hard to tell if the work has a sense of humor or is just deliriously enchanted due to its artist's whimsical view of things.

Animal hijinks return in Ronald Goodman's understated and wry pen-and-ink drawing "Tryin' to Impress the Ladies," which sounds like the Buckhead bar scene, but is, in reality, a woodland idyll where a preening turkey spreads his feathers as a group of hens go about their foraging, looking distinctly unimpressed.

All is not entirely light and lovely in Imaginings, however. Fred Budin's mixed-media painting of an after-work bar scene, "Five O'Clock World," has an element of exhaustion to it, and Katie Smith's abstracted figures and landscapes, such as "Latent Scape," hint at moodier strains in this eclectic group show.

Imaginings: Selected Georgia Artists runs through Sept. 20 at Arts for All Gallery, 57 Forsyth St. Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 404-221-1270. www.VSAartsGA.org