Drawn Fictions

at the Art Gym, Marylhurst University, 17600 Pacific Hwy., through February 13

T o my thinking, it was Mariko Mori's Wave UFO that signaled the demise of Productionism. Visitors boarded Mori's bazillion-dollar, space- age, submarine-sized pod, attached a set of electrodes to their noggins, and then watched their brainwaves projected on a screen above their head. All jokes about "checking your brain" aside, pieces like Wave UFO make me long for artists who work their visions out with a piece of paper and a pencil.

Apparently, I'm not the only one jonesing for a resurgence of directness, humanity, and humility in art, as drawing has been making a comeback as a vital medium. Drawn Fictions at the Art Gym showcases eight West Coast artists who draw in narrative or quasi-illustrative veins. Unfortunately, much of the work is forgettable despite a few standouts.

Best stuff first: Pat Boas' riveting, humorous, and masterfully drafted hybrid forms are pure wonder and joy to look at. Drawn in acrylic and ink, Boas creates tubular shapes that cross into themselves, make figure eights, and threaten to knot up. The shapes are reminiscent of that old screen saver where pipes fill your computer screen in an infinite disarray, but Boas' forms take the appearance of furry cattails that segue from tabby to Persian to tiger. David Eckard's similarly abstract forms based on animal organs, bones, vegetation, and bondage gear are always great to see, but related drawings were shown at the Art Gym just one year ago. Whimsy abounds in the sculptural drawings of Dan Webb, who creases and buckles his paper to create folds and seams that drawn characters interact with. They peer over cliffs and put their ears to folded ridges with delightful simplicity.

From there, the show goes downhill quickly. Joe Biel's line drawings of solitary figures in existential dramatics have never moved me and his lack of line variation makes my eyes cross. Tom Prochaska's drawings are composed of hundreds of quick, scratchy lines that look like the marks made when I shuffle papers with an uncapped pen in hand. Joseph Park's brushy scenes on Mylar are bland, and Jay Stuckey's political pieces in which mummies wage war look straight out of a school newspaper.

Despite good timing, a good idea, and several good artists, this show at the Art Gym is one of their most disappointing in recent memory. CHAS BOWIE

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