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Autumn Exhibition at the RE Institute

Oct 11: The exhibitions at the RE Institute are always interesting if sometimes disconcerting. The current show, "I Know What Art You Did Last Summer," in the upstairs gallery of the Center’s big barn held in collaboration with The Watershed Center and the Studio around Swoon, features the work of some 14 artists  
Along one wall of the lofty space, a pair of videos by Todd Chandler run in a continuous loop. On the left a large yellow bulldozer moves mountains of trash about in a landfill.  On the right flocks of seagulls dive bomb the carcass of a whale that has washed up on a beach and devour his remains in a grisly feast. If Chandler means to say that we treat our wild creatures today much as we do our trash, he is not far from wrong. 
Among the installations is “Woman in Mourning” by Marshall LaCount. Propelled by a the blades of a fan, a woman dressed in black scrubs her laundry in an old fashioned wash tub. Beside her an assortment of black tee shirts hang on a clothes rack. 
"Woman in Mourning" by Marshall LaCount
Ever since Marcel Duchamp took a urinal, hung it upside down on the wall and called it a work of art, artists have felt free to do the same with whatever they consider interesting. For example Robin Frohardt’s “Dumpster Monster,” installed on the wall opposite the video, features a graffiti covered green dumpster overflowing with trash. Beside it, leaning against the wall, is a push broom.  Lavado’s vivid imagination has led her to build sculptural junk rafts that have traveled down the Hudson River in New York, the Ganges River in India and the Adriatic Sea in Italy.
"Dumpster Monster" by Robin Frohardt
I especially liked the works by Alyssa Denis. There are a number of photographs as well an installation in the form of a building made from pieces of Plexiglas Denis has salvaged from frame shops. On the different levels she has arranged a variety of items including handmade miniature bricks, miniature trash, miniature houses, thread, paper cones, and other found objects. 
"Cycle Resource" by Alyssa Denis
Virginia Lavado’s drawings can be seen on the ground floor of the barn. Her images are exquisitely drawn – she is a brilliant draughtsman, - but quite disquieting. Many have to do with folk tales and have the effect of the German “Struwwehlpeter,” a series of cautionary tales for children known in English as “Slovenly Peter” that used to haunt my childhood. Faintly humorous and rather sinister Lavado’s drawings feature humans and quite often rabbits with enormous ears. Although these animals are seemingly benign, one suspects they do not mean well.   
drawing by Virginia Lavado