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Beautiful 

When: July 24-Sept. 9 2011

Truth is no longer beauty; nowadays, honest art must be subversive, ironic, and detached -- or must it? John Neary's sculptures and Sally Ann Rodriguez's paintings may not be traditionally beautiful, but both artists aim at powerful emotion and push the figurative/anatomical envelope (though not always successfully). Both also look back to Romantic and Expressionist precursors: Rodriguez writes, "The artist never gets away from being a servant, an excavator, a janitor, a builder, a seeker," and she alternates between life studies, imaginary portraits, and abstracted landscapes. "Yellowstone," "In the Hills," and "Hand Like a Foot with a Fish in my Pocket" are her strongest works here. Neary sculpts Rodinesque or Wagnerian figures who struggle from their organic matrices ("Ashes," "Breathing Room," "Powder"); despite their modest size, "Return" and "Power" are monumental, their tragic heroes imbued with superhuman (or subhuman) intensity. Beautiful runs through Sept. 9 at Float Gallery (1091 Calcot Pl. #116, Oakland). 510-535-1702 or TheFloatCenter.com

— DeWitt Cheng

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