1476 NE Alberta, 284-8800 Through Sept 22 The Talisman Gallery, a 15-member cooperative, recently relocated to an Alberta Street venue. The group's second exhibit in the burgeoning neighborhood offers viewers a range of artistic impulses by showcasing work of a handful of the cooperative's members: a hodge-podge of collage, painting, and photography. While some of the work is rather mediocre, there are a few standouts: Dan Bronson, Allen Schmertzler, and John McAnulty each provide compelling works.

John McAnulty presents color photographs that illustrate his well-trained eye and darkroom prowess. He points his camera at the American landscape, and achieves striking compositions. "Lower Antelope Canyon, Page AZ" captures the ribbon-like rock formations that are characteristic of the southwest region. Sunlight pours into the cavernous spaces and enlivens the sunrise hues of the rocks. Though Arizona canyons are the subject of thousands of photographers, McAnulty proves himself as one of the top tour guides of this American treasure by going beyond two dimensions. He draws the viewer in to investigate the depths of the mysterious canyon.

Photographer Don Bronson provides a contrasting employment of the medium, as his black and white images strike a more abstract, poetic note. Heart of Stone is a microscopic examination of a coastal landscape. Bronson aims his camera downward, achieving an aerial perspective. A small, irregularly shaped pool of water fills the frame, and a sand dollar is belly up in one portion of the pool, while a rock placed in a lower pool balances the composition. Most interesting is the gritty, dark sand exposed in Bronson's print. Instead of reflecting the pristine beauty of a coastal beach, he reveals a harsh terrain. The sandy composition seems otherworldly--Perhaps similar to what one would imagine the surface of the moon to be.

Arguably, the most compelling piece in the show is an acrylic painting on paper by Allen Schmertzler. "Compassionate Conservatives at the Lethal Dose Café" depicts a crowded, interior scene. A fish eye perspective captures an unfolding Bacchus, as a mesh of figures are caught boozing it up at the café. George W. Bush hogs the foreground and gives the viewer a thumbs up, a priest holds an open bible, and John Wayne looks on with saddened eyes. They are all part of a mad celebration; the crowd dances and cheers as they witness a prisoner's execution. Strapped to a table, the suffering man oddly wears one cowboy boot... perhaps a clever symbol that suggests the whereabouts of the sick party. Enabled by Schmertzler's fluid rendering style, the scene is simultaneously humorous and macabre; the slithering characters are amplified by the painter's penchant for yellow skin tones. Each character wears a subtle grimace, establishing their place in the eerie Texan underworld.

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