Queer as folk

Visual Arts

There is a serendipitous summit of whimsy on display at Eyedrum for the next month. It suggests that, with a dramatically expanded space, the ever-plucky alternative gallery has revved up its ambitions, too.

The featured traveling exhibition, The George and Helen Spelvin Folk Art Collection (through Feb. 18), is the charmingly goofy brainchild of University of Tennessee professor Beauvais Lyons (whose parents certainly guaranteed their son an absurdist future when they christened him Beauvais). The exhibit of conceptually torqued "folk" art parodies the often condescending and conventionalized packaging of folk art. A selection of works using a folksy vernacular of tin cans, bottle caps, house paint and cardboard is accompanied by "bios" of the artists (one, Junebug's faux-folk kook Frank Taylor).

Also from out yonder Knoxville-way, Lyons has brought along artist Bryan C. Baker, who has created his own archive of sorts — not of folk, but of ordinary human whimsy. Baker's Peripheral Association Research Association is committed to documenting and categorizing — in Polaroids and typewritten forms — sightings of loony human inventiveness. A novelty foam hat becomes a handy means of filling in a broken window in an apartment building. A bright yellow raincoat substitutes for a missing car window.

Across the room are the rococo luxe ecstasies of the Atlanta art collaborative Golden Blizzard. The seven artists (Ellen Black, Errol Crane, Jennifer Kornder, Alex Kvares, Ann-Marie Manker, Jordan Reese and Daniel Upton) have created a mixed-media wall-sized installation (in full disclosure, for a Creative Loafing event) that weds the religious and the profane, the cuddly and the repellent (through Feb. 4). Like Christmas on acid, the imagery is rendered in the sweetest shades of blue, iridescent white and glitter, with blood red occasionally bubbling up to suggest da nasty underneath da nice.

In Eyedrum's small gallery, Statesboro artist Nick Nelson speaks to the melancholy side of art-making in his Mandalas project (through Jan. 28), in which repeated forms — numbers and images — are drawn or taped directly onto the wall. Large numbers like 223,498 (the tsunami dead) are written over and over until they form tight clusters of grey that suggest swarms or hives, as well as the profundity and tragedy of life and death on an epic scale.

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