David FeBland at Glave Kocen Gallery
There's a slick quality to David FeBland's oil paintings that sometimes borders on sleazy. His facile realism often looks more like the product of a production line than that of the hand of a serious studio artist, but to FeBland's credit, the cheap and easy look of his paint is deceptive and usually plays to the advantage of his imagery.
FeBland, who lives and works in New York, gravitates toward common scenery, but it's his urban street scenes that benefit most from the sensuality of his painting style. His show at Glave Kocen Gallery, sampled from the last 20 years of his career, covers many subjects, but his gritty and oppressive images of built environments set against individual figures soulfully deliver a believable, multisensory experience.
FeBland's brand of pop slickness is nearly inarticulate, yet quite profound in its expression of street culture. “Observing Faith,” one of the artist's strongest and most memorable paintings here, ironically represents two figures standing at the entrance of an empty and dark sanctuary. They're not observing faith as participants; they're outsiders, observing the flood of natural light that sweeps past them from the street and grazes the church pews. It's a brilliant image, literally, because of the dramatic representation of light, and figuratively, because it says so much about the spiritual threshold at which our culture finds itself. Through May 1. 1620 W. Main St. 358-1990.
William Wylie at Page Bond Gallery
As he's proven with his large black-and-white photographs of marble quarries and quarry workers in Carrara, Italy, William Wylie's talent is the ability to capture visual and conceptual complexity with straightforward narrative photography. His photos at Page Bond Gallery were taken in a Carrara palace that has been the home of an art academy since the 1800s. Wylie, from Charlottesville, sets his sights on the anatomy-drawing classroom, where dusty relics of figurative sculpture, skeletons and castings are displayed side by side. The artist's friendly, documentary style sets up a compelling dialogue between antiquity, expressed in centuries-old plaster walls and decaying anatomical specimens, and the present. Wylie calls himself a collector of specimen when describing his work; here he amasses a small but wondrous collection of curiosities. Through April 25. 1625 W. Main St. 359-3633.
Don Crow at Main Art Gallery
Don Crow's works convert the otherwise humble gallery into a psychedelic playground where disparate images and objects tease viewers who are looking for a unifying theme. Like his collection of single words printed on large cards and resting on wall-mounted brackets, Crow's exhibition at Main Art Gallery works like a game in which the audience arranges parts to construct a thought, but here logical links don't exist. An assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's art program in Qatar, Crow creates an oeuvre of Dadaistic gestures using photography, word play, paint, collage and, oddly, two installations of over-the-top, residential-style window draperies. Some objects are executed in seriousness, while others, like his painting framed in folded and stapled paper, thumb a nose at convention altogether. If the point is that there's no point, then what makes the gallery's tight circular stair worth climbing is Crow's childlike enthusiasm for the theater that is art making. Through April 26. 1537 W. Main St. 355-6151.