Downtown Art

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August 1, 2005 // UPDATED 1:56 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

Reduce, reuse, recycle

In the exhibit, "Scratching the Surface," John Alspach examines surfaces that aren't typically given a second glimpse, at least not for beauty. For example, he shows metal sheets decorated with a seemingly random compilation of rust, dust, gravel, acrylics and drywall compound. That chemistry also appears on wood panels. Some of the steel and wood panels are dressed with graffiti.

One of his most colorful works is a steel billboard collage. Alspach offers meaning in the history of these "found objects," creating ghost-like traces, wrinkles, buckled texture and oily color. In some pieces, big-letter leftovers from billboard signs give clues to the piece's previously productive career as an advertisement.

Resurrected in smaller doses, the mammoth signs reveal graceful lines and subtle colors. Alspach's industrial, salvage-yard paintings demonstrate that a palette comprised of runny fragments rubbed off and into another creates an artful new setting for shells that bear residue - mysterious or obvious.

Similarly, Tara Costello's landscape paintings mirror the composition of Alspach's revitalized imagery. She uses paint in more traditional ways to depict blocks of color forming landscapes.

Interestingly, Costello deliberately achieves a texture and composition in paint and plaster that emulates the appearance of Alspach's incidental materials. Although her layers were built up more recently and uniquely, as opposed to painting with already- existing materials, they provide a view into her personal history with stylized traces of her mood and experience.

• Tu-Su thru Aug. 30; Tu-Th noon-8 p.m., F-Su noon-5 p.m. Rosalux Gallery, 1011 Washington Ave. S. Free. 747-3942.