If the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center isn’t on your radar as a place that mounts great shows, it should be.
And right now, “The Dark Side” — a wickedly cool show curated by Jack O. Summers and Jeanne R. Bieri — is open for your enjoyment, through June 10.
The curators’ statement says they were reaching for an exhibition that would give form to the sinister and bewildering, “the fleeting and unseen.”
Among others, the 19-person group show includes Taurus Burns, Mary Fortuna, Cyris Karimipour, Stephen Magsig, Bruce Giffin and Lisa Poszywak.
Start with the creepiest work, Renata Palubinskus’ three-part “Monoculture Domination, I, II, III,” which is both alarming and quite a scream.
These bright, beautiful oil-on-board paintings features mothers, both rosy and skeletal, happy babies suckling breasts and random Hindu gods supervising from above.
It’s not often you run into political art about the dangers of monoculture crops. But with exuberantly healthy corn fields in the background, and all three subjects holding ears of corn, it’s pretty clear the subject here is the dangers of American industrial agriculture.
Another disturbingly pretty canvas with an unsettling subject is Adrian Hatfield’s “A Commonplace Day,” which stars a sheep with an extra set of legs where its head should be.
This morphological horror show is set against a gorgeous background of cerulean blue that makes its central image all the more appalling.
By contrast, Fortuna’s “Dark Snake” is a surprisingly friendly creation, especially set in contrast to the other work here.
Fortuna, who’s been wrapped up with snakes and other mythic symbols for some time, gives us an elegant black-and-red snake with tailored panache — edged in buttons, with an elegant needlepoint pattern running down the beast’s back.
“Recurring Nightmare” by Scott Northrup features a dozen or so tiny white busts of the artist’s mother, all identical, who went through a particularly difficult bout of cancer.
This installation is quite a sight.
All the plaster busts are identical, and laid out in orderly rows. But Northrup’s smashed and twisted and deformed them in strikingly ways, creating a harrowing landscape of mental anguish and pain.
Unsettling? You bet. But the concept and artistry are both deeply affecting and beautiful.
Finally, Anne Fracassa’s “Escape” is a large canvas with an impressionistic portrait of a bicyclist riding toward a mist-shrouded future with only occasional glimpses of the sun.
Suggestions of danger abound in this work full of bluster and wind, but the subject pedals on — Fool! — optimistic and undeterred.
Also well worth a serious look if you visit the art center is another gallery full of found-object creations by Karen Gubitz, many of which are remarkable.
‘The Dark Side’
Through June 10
Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, 1516 S. Cranbrook, Birmingham
9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Thurs.;
9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fri.-Sat.