Folks showed up at Lot F Gallery’s opening for the !ND!V!DUALS collective’s show, “Janky Donuts: Handmade Donuts for Your Mouth,” looking for — not surprisingly — a new doughnut shop with out-of-the-box pastries, such as the “Farm to Mouth” doughnut, topped with bacon.
Indeed, Boston magazine had written up the Financial District’s “first gourmet doughnut shop,” trumpeting the opening earlier this month, and quoting !ND!V!DUALS member Colin Driesch, who said he wanted to “put a funkier twist on doughnuts.”
Oops. “Janky Donuts” is an art installation, and the doughnuts — like everything else there — are made of scrap wood. !ND!V!DUALS, around since 2003, builds increasingly ambitious, fable-like installations featuring cartoonish animal characters. This one is a hoot, and a crafty marvel. A human-size, pop-eyed lizard stands behind the doughnut counter, ready to pack up boxes of sugary (or splintery) treats. The shop has a jukebox with a three-ring song list you can flip through, with hits by groups such as “The Four Donuts” (OK, the wordplay could be wittier).
It’s all so wholesome, so mom-and-pop, until you walk into the back room. The doughnuts, it seems, are a front for dealing weapons. Guns — as wooden as the doughnuts — hang on the wall. You can even use one to shoot BBs for target practice. There’s a rocket launcher, which I initially mistook for a blunderbuss, and a missile. A second giant lizard, wearing snappy wooden high-tops, mans the counter, where we learn that the boxes in which doughnuts are sold have a secret compartment that can hold a pistol.
Work by the !ND!V!DUALS leans toward clever storytelling and crackerjack woodworking, not rigorous social commentary. “Janky Donuts” is no allegory about gun control. Rather, it’s a tale about a thriving business with a shady side — right down to duping the press about what’s really going on there.
Seeing without judging
Nature’s majesty in Karen Halverson’s landscape photographs, now up at Robert Klein Gallery, usually pivots around something man-made. Amid the sun-washed cliffs, brooding skies, and endless tracts of land squat ugly sheds, plastic chairs, and gaudy silos.
A nubbly sea of ferociously pink flowers garnished with greenery fills two-thirds of “Mulholland at Cold Canyon Road, Los Angeles, California, 1993.” It bumps up against a field of dried grass and shrubs. That edge is littered with roughly 20 big wooden poles, splayed like pickup sticks. The image raises a question of degree: What is natural here? What is cultivated? Is the carpet of flowers more natural than the discarded poles?
“Hoover Dam, Arizona-Nevada Border, 1995” balances the crisp beauty of the dam’s design against the craggy backdrop of the cliff faces beyond. As twilight settles, lights illuminate the intake towers; they might be temples. The high, red streaks of an 18-wheeler’s taillights edge the top of the dam like a halo.
It’s easy for a lover of landscape to deploy knee-jerk distaste of traces of human interference. These marks of habitation don’t scar the landscapes. Sometimes they’re lovely, sometimes strange. Halverson doesn’t judge what she sees; she merely witnesses.
The fabric of her vision
Self-taught Cuban artist Sandra Dooley, who has a show up at Galeria Cubana, makes fey, often overly romantic paintings that celebrate domestic and spiritual life. Flat, almond-faced women hold cats in her paintings, and are visited by spirits. Her work gains traction when she introduces collage, affixing fabric to her canvas and often painting over it.
Dooley builds portraits out of textiles, as in “Isabel.” Hanks of burlap make up her brow, buttons run along pleated fabric at her jaw line. Her sleeves look like lace. Paint covers the fabric, giving the figure chromatic consistency. It makes her seem less fractured, but also as if she’s only barely disguising her tetchy textures. She’s a regal figure, but the cloths Dooley chooses often suggest roughness, labor, and domestic life. There’s a complexity to the character, and to her implicit narrative, that Dooley doesn’t achieve when she uses paint alone.
Out of the Blue move
Out of the Blue Art Gallery, a community venue that offers exhibition opportunities to artists who have never shown their work before, will shutter the doors of the space it has long occupied on Prospect Street in Cambridge come September.
“The rent has gone up beyond what we can afford,” says founder Tom Tipton. A fund-raiser will take place on Saturday with a sidewalk sale at noon and a barbecue, with live music, at 5 p.m. Tipton has initiated online fund-raising at www.gofundme.com.
Tipton says plans are in the works to move into a larger space on Massachusetts Avenue, closer to MIT. Out of the Blue is a supporter of all types of artists, new and established. In addition to exhibitions, it stages concerts and open-mike nights, and Tipton curates exhibitions at the Middle East and 1369 Coffee House.
Although it has hosted countless benefits, Saturday’s events mark the first-ever fund-raiser for the seat-of-the-pants (i.e., for profit) operation.
For more information, go to
KAREN HALVERSON: Survey
At: Robert Klein Gallery,
38 Newbury St., through Aug. 29. 617-267-7997, www.robertkleingallery.com
Mi Vida (My Life)
At: Galeria Cubana,
460 Harrison Ave., through July 31. 617-292-2822, www.lagaleriacubana.comCate McQuaid can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @cmcq.