Puzzles within puzzles at Contemporary Artists' Center

By Christopher Marcisz
Berkshire Eagle Staff

NORTH ADAMS -- This fall's exhibits at the Contemporary Artists' Center encourage investigation, attention, and hypothesizing. Some of the works might make you feel like you've solved a puzzle, or might just leave you puzzled, but it is the trip that really matters.

Opening last weekend and running through October is "closer in," an exhibit of videos and sculptures curated by Heather Phillips and Ven Voisey. The pieces are organized around the concept of "artists playing with the idea of scale and attentive inspection craft works which require the viewer to come closer and investigate."
The exhibit is dominated by Kim Eggleston-Kraus' "Closet Space," a series of impeccably recreated closets, with the racks of polyester clothes and stacks of old board games that will give many viewers a sharp jolt of recognition.
Much of the exhibit is designed for close viewing. Kathy Desmond's video "Auntie" features an old woman preparing for bed, with an off-screen monologue on such as not having children and her questioning of her Catholic faith. David Lachman offers "Flower to Flower," a lethargic video about petting bees.
Other interesting works include an interactive element. Sean O'Brien's "Something that would be trapped in a box" is pretty self-explanatory once you figure it out, and Joanne Pasila's "Moon" will surprise you with what you can do with cardboard paper towel rolls.
If "closer in" asks for a certain type of investigative prowess from its viewers, Christy Georg's solo exhibit requires all that and some imagination to boot. All the items -- call them sculptures, props, artifacts -- in "The Complete Taxonomy of the Communication Series" have been used before. How and why is up to you to figure out, with very few hints.

Each of the items on display seems to recall a certain antique era of industrial design, like the elaborate obsolescence you find in sewing machines or typewriters. In fact, a few vintage Underwoods and Remingtons play prominent roles in some of her work on display.

Each work is carefully designed (she does all her own metal-work and glass-blowing), and appears to serve some mysterious function. For example, there are the three separate items in the "Transistor Triumverate": one appears to be extended metal fingers, attached to a sort of glove, with cork tips. Another appears to be a funnel, with tubes, attached to glass earphones.

"I think its interesting when a large part of the work happens in one's imagination," Georg said last weekend.

Each of the items was used in a performance between 2002 and 2003, in a hall at Massachusetts College of Arts in Boston. Georg said that "the whole series was trying to fully experience the present tense."

While as props or tools they may have succumbed to becoming, as it were, museum-pieces, it's just a different level of meaning. "It exists in a different way just because it's old," she said.


In addition to "Taxonomy," CAC is also showing Georg's "kinetic sculpture" "Duel/Duet," a witty thing involving two old Remington typewriters having a rather dull argument back and forth in a rather hypnotic rhythm.

Both exhibits run through Oct. 31.
Also on display, the Stencil Pirates, and some works by residents in recent months.