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Vexing History 

When: March 6-28 2009

Painter Eric Bohr and sculptor/installation artist Charlie Milgrim employ scavenged artifacts to explore how past and present mingle in the vexed/stimulated imagination. Bohr's painting/collages juxtapose real objects and painted landscape elements to create subdued philosophic meditations on the vanished landscape of his Michigan childhood; the lost family farms and the razed auto plants are represented symbolically by humble found objects -- imagined relics, like the burlap sack in "nutmeat tonnage." Milgrim's trademark objetstrouvés are bowling balls, which she buys cheap (she owns hundreds), sorts by color, and combines with other salvaged stuff (seesaws, ladders) to create eccentric anthropomorphic sculptures, humorous, precarious, and comical, that deliver pointed messages about serious issues like consumerism and military ball-swinging. "Two Histories" is an old-fashioned balance-beam scale on which sit blue and black bowling balls, live and dead worlds -- earths in the balance. Vexing History runs through March 28 at Mercury 20 (25 Grand Ave., Oakland). or 510-701-4620.

— DeWitt Cheng


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