'Nature of Romance' at Steven's Square Center for the Arts

Apothecaries; Michael Wong

Apothecaries; Michael Wong

The current exhibition at the Steven's Square Center for the Arts, "The Nature of Romance," features the work of seven local artists thoughtfully curated by J.M. Culver. The show is colorful and woodsy, bringing visitors into the realm of the fantastic while keeping one foot firmly planted in the world of early 20th-century apothecaries and oddities. The show is romantic in the strange way fairy tales are in that there is the promise of happily-ever after, but not before a sinister distraction.

This is definitely the case with Michael Wong's piece. It features two glass-faced wooden curio boxes, stuffed neatly with what looks to be hundreds of tiny glass vials, each labeled with the different kinds of love life has to offer, such as "Impulsive Love" or "Tainted Love." Among the vials is an antiquated syringe hanging just so in each box.


For the most part, the pieces in this exhibition are large, such as James Lamis's collages. He indulges in textures and depth; his work also tends to have a portion cut from them to make room for more abstract objects. Each piece connotes love in some way, whether it be giant pasted on bees or a rather striking illustration of a woman that also features a gnarled tree branch.

Joe Sinness's pieces, covered in cloth scales, conjure dragons while the pastel palette brings to mind the princesses trapped by them. It's not as sappy as all of that, though; it's actually quite stunning to see long crystals dangling like drool from the mouth of Sinness's beast.

Overall, "The Nature of Romance" has brought together excellent variations on a theme, creating a show sexy and sweet enough to inspire a boudoir for the 21st century.

The exhibition is free and open to the public through March 13 at Steven's Square Center for the Arts, located at 1905 Third Avenue South in Minneapolis.