Downtown Art

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May 16, 2005 // UPDATED 1:54 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

Visual dialogue

I wish I'd had images like those of Camille Gage's to contemplate back in astronomy class, like when we had to map out the position of the moon. Had I considered the science assignment visually, like Gage, I probably could've gotten past the loathing part (math and science were never fortes of mine) and turned my loony assignment into something fun. Instead, my moon charts, pictures and records bordered on mind numbing.

Gage takes an impressionistic voyage just barely out of the stratosphere so that we can see the contrast between the earth's surface (or any planet's crust) and the sky. She recreates an abstract textbook image, simplifies its form and zooms in on big brush strokes for an interesting version of outer space.

Later, she incorporates text from poets, politicians and diplomats that becomes embedded in the surface of the canvas. Red, white and blue, in addition to the American flag runs through other works as well. For her, these paintings seem to measure different phases of the moon, or different phases of her self in relation to the "planets" that orbit around her. Whether she examines the planet of American politics or her relationship with her daughter, Gage's paintings combine a far-reaching love for art and public affairs.

Robyn Stoller's prints, drawings and installations, however, illuminate a totally different story, with softer, muted tones (unlike Gage's loud colors). But they also take a colorful approach to subjects that some would describe in boring detail. But like Gage, Stoller eliminates the visual information we don't need.

In fact, her pictures are barely there, seeming almost to float. Although she too integrates text, the delicate letterpress markings are intricate and simulate musical activity. Some resemble Braille lettering.

She also pictures recognizable icons, introducing the Hebrew alphabet, cells and DNA codes that speak to qualities of the inner self. Interestingly, biological and cultural currents take a symbolic place in this partially religious body of work that quietly, but vividly, ponders identity.

Tu-Su thru May 29; Tu-Th noon-8 p.m., F-Su noon-5 p.m. Rosalux Gallery, 1011 Washington Ave. S. Free. 747-3942, www.rosaluxgallery.com.

Indiana Klum

Mattias Klum battled King Cobra snakes and Asiatic lions with nothing but a camera to stave off pending danger. Like a comic book detective or Indiana Jones, he's closely trailed the world's most poisonous snakes and tracked vicious lions on foot. Even more dangerous, however, was the possibility of contracting malaria, a bigger killer than cobras or lions.

Wasn't this photographer afraid to risk his life for the sake of a picture? Maybe, but if he was, he's done a profound job hiding it. In a statement about his work, the intrepid Klum dubbed his daredevil trips "exciting," while others might call them just plain scary. But Klum's willingness to put up with extreme climate conditions and temperamental members of the animal kingdom shows a longtime dedication to his work.

Already, the 36-year-old Klum has led a pretty exciting life. For example, he can vouch for the poor lighting conditions inherent in the rainforest and knows that his favorite animal to photograph is probably the orangutan. (Not many people know what the interior of a rainforest looks like; fewer still could claim orangutans as one of their dearest subjects.)

Klum's interest in nature was sown in childhood. At first, he strove to be a farmer and studied equipment and animals. Eventually, he started snapping photos, and the images overwhelmed his interest in the animals themselves. Still evident, however, is Klum's essential attraction to the animals.

Klum's curiosity is akin to the meticulous sensibility of a scientist, but he documents his sightings with an artist's eye. His fluorescent impressions of rare, endangered or hard-to-reach species expose the exotic in striking poses and in color so hyper that it's hard to believe his subject is the natural world and not the imaginary creation of a Crayola marker artist.

Th May 19, 7:30 p.m. State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave. S. $25-$35. 651-989-5151, www.hennepintheatredistrict.org.