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"Why Can't We Live Together”
Lisa Sette Gallery, Phoenix, Arizona
Recommendation by Deborah Ross

Charlotte Potter, "Lenticular America, Brown/Wilson," side view, 2016, hand-engraved glass cameos, steel, wood, 15 x 16" framed. Courtesy Lisa Sette Gallery, Phoenix Arizona

Continuing through April 29, 2017

The melancholy lyrics of a 1972 hit by Timmy Thomas, "Why Can't We Live Together,” provide the thematic framework for this multinational and multiracial mix of artists. Set against the cacophony of today’s headlines, the show necessarily forces discourse on matters of politics, race and religion.

Sonya Clark gets straight to the point with “Unraveled Persistence.” A Confederate flag juts out from the wall, its weft threads gone but pooling on the floor. Nearby is “Afro Abe Progression,” in which Clark stacks seven $5 bills onto a plaque. Each bill bears an “Afro” of black thread in various sizes on Lincoln’s head. Dialogue about racism’s deep history is inevitable. Charlotte Potter addresses racial divides with three lenticular portraits on glass of men familiar to us by virtue of recent clashes between young African-Americans and police officers. “Lenticular American, Brown/Wilson," for instance, is a portrait of Michael Brown when viewed from the left, and policeman Darren Wilson when viewed from the right.

A few works deal with U.S.-Central America border tensions, as in “Untitled (Doorbells from Mexico) / Sin título (Timbres de México)” by Venezuelan artist Luis Molina-Pantin. A seemingly simple matrix of 100 square photographs gives doorbells symbolic power when viewers notice each doorbell either has a grate as a barrier or has been yanked out. Also ripe for discussion is the larger conundrum of American politics. In “Proof-Reading” Ann Morton hangs a white handkerchief on the wall, its embroidery using copy editing symbols to transpose the words and punctuation in “Are we fucked?” into an affirmation that we are.

Lisa Sette Gallery

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