Dalton Gallery's LIMITLESS has science class

Exhibit is a study in contrasts as much as art's endless possibilities

Some artists are like the proverbial scientist in his laboratory. How apropos, then, that LIMITLESS at Agnes Scott College’s Dalton Gallery is a tribute to Galileo, one of history's greatest scientists. The show features six artists and is a study in contrasts as much as art’s endless possibilities.

One is immediately transported to a Barbie doll world upon entering the gallery. You can smell the vinyl on Didi Dunphy’s large padded seesaws rendered in pale muted olive, Kelly green, Pepto-Bismol pink and baby blue. Dunphy's big, brilliantly colored signature polka dots decorate a nearby wall, which sports skateboards in Crayola’s brightest colors, and a swing — something no self-respecting playground can be without. These full-size functional objects are meant to be played on, not simply looked at.

Klimchak, too, exhibits objects intended for use. His homemade musical instruments are displayed with videos of the artist performing on them. The most magical is the Theremin, an antenna-like object you run your hands up and down to produce eerie, phantasmal sounds. The instruments are visually compelling, but Klimchak's fluid performances are crucial to understanding their capabilities.

LIMITLESS is all play, and Joe Peragine’s “Invasion at Dawn” — a room-sized military diorama made of cardboard, plaster and mixed media — is no exception. Here, however, the artist plays on the dark side of life. War with guns and bombs is a favorite boy’s game, and Peragine’s cardboard battleships rubbed with color are ready to engage. The sun sets beyond the horizon and all is aglow in an airbrushed mural made onsite. There’s both beauty and sadness in Peragine’s scary game, and the dichotomy makes it all the more powerful.

E.K. Huckaby’s small diorama, “Hotel Bacteria,” is a masterpiece of decrepitude. The artist layers collected paint chips to create the small white bed and table of a seedy hotel at which we peer like giants. His 20 paintings, all titled “XINX,” are of institutional bathroom sinks. The sinks float in space and have rich patinas, layered with tar, linseed oil and other hardware store stock. Splayed like Francis Bacon's portrait of Pope Innocent X, their smeared edges radiate from the works.

Architect cum artist Lee Kean needs to find a fresher way to create a dialogue between her architecture and her artworks. Showing architectural models is certainly not “limitless” for an architect. Martha Whittington channels da Vinci with two small, elegantly moving flight machines that are studies for the two larger works: “Untitled Horizon” and “Pulse Extractor.” “Untitled Horizon” has an eraser attached to remove marks from the wall, and “Pulse Extractor” busily chews up the wall in a circular motion.

LIMITLESS is a playground of science, childhood and design. Galileo would be proud.

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