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Curating curators

by and

Every summer, when most New Yorkers are out and about, galleries in New York City either close or put up group shows culled from their collections. These shows are usually mildly interesting in that they show a variety of work reflecting the galleries' specific interests and tastes.

But the downside is that these shows generally don't allow viewers the opportunity to consider an artist's work in a broader context. Some works may stand out over others just because they're larger or more flamboyant while other, more subtle works might get lost in a tourist-tempting display of artistic bombast. Viewing the more subtle would be better if we could see it in relation to more work by the same artist or in context with other artists where there seems to be a theme or connection between them.

It's winter here in Rochester, the holidays are over, and we're looking for things to do indoors. Which finds us wondering why A\V curators (all musical or visual artists) decided to put up a small selection of their own work?

That said there is some interesting work to look at the A\V Curators Show. David Merulla'sIsolation Suspends is a quietly poetic-kinetic piece. It's a skeletal umbrella from which several slide-sized photographs are suspended. Also dangling from the umbrella's spines are pages of a story about an acrobat aunt who vanishes into thin air during a performance. The piece works especially well with Merulla's ethereal and haunting musical score, which you can listen to with headphones.

Joe Tunis' Uprooted is a zen-like "performance" of bamboo reeds in oak frames that are screwed through onto a thick, vertical piece of paduak wood flanked on each side by floor-to-ceiling strips of brown paper with latex paint marks. It looks like a painter used the paper as a drop cloth. This works well with the very structured bamboo units in creating a tension between the highly constructed and the serendipitous. The piece just might be the strongest in the exhibition, although it lacks the edginess and rawness of Tunis' sound installations, which are not represented.

A large charcoal drawing on paper by Chris Reeg is an imposing piece but a much more interesting work is his photograph of an old furnace that also serves as the image on the invitation. (Reeg has manipulated the image in such a way that the title of the exhibition seamlessly becomes part of the original raised lettering found on the furnace.)

Mike Twohig's contribution is a couple of quasi-surrealistic abstractions reminiscent of Chilean artist Roberto Matta. They are much more interesting than the more realistic double portrait, as are the small, funky Crumb-like illustrated flyers from previous gigs. Thrift shop-style frames add to the shabby chic aesthetic.

Unfortunately, Andy Gilmore's intricate and inventive drawings are the more subtle works that get lost. Their inclusion seems like afterthought, which maybe makes sense since Gilmore's stint at curating is just beginning. An earlier, solo exhibition of his work was one of the best shows we've seen at A\V.

And Lynn Hileman'sCurbside, three black-and-white photographs mounted on metal, seems to suffer from an overused technique of thinking you've discovered some really cool Rorschach form after your film was processed incorrectly. Then again, maybe it was cleverly done on purpose. But what's up with the blasé attitude about exhibiting work with an obviously scrunched corner?

Some of the work shows promise. But a group show with art by "curators" does not a curated show make.

You should go if you want to see a varied, multimedia collection from the A\V artists.

A\V Curators Show through January 28 | A\V, 8 Public Market (second floor), use North Union Street entrance | Gallery hours are Thursday 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. | 423-0320,