As a whole, “Boys of Summer” presents a case study on the emotionally inhibited psyche of the American male. Zane Lewis’s acrylic cutout of a smiling Obama pushes forward an important question: is this a man or the caricature of a fantasy? In two digital prints, Nick Cave exhibits himself, his face hidden by an ornately decorated ski mask that appears both ominous and tribal at the same time. He appears an exotic, dangerous animal, suggesting how African-American men utilize disguise in order to gain access to respect and recognition. Cave and Obama are different sides of the same coin, reflecting limited avenues of selfhood. Assertions about white men are equally compelling. Joel Ross’ somber portraits of American serial killers reveal a less than cheerful aspect of a repressed culture. James Gobel’s sad and eerie portraits of the gay teddy-bear man in kitsch cowboy garb illustrate how loneliness and the pursuit of a stereotype are symbiotically intertwined. The most expressive and captivating piece is Danish artist Jesper Julst’s two-minute DVCAM installation, “No Man is an Island.” A portly, balding, middle-aged man joyously dances in a town square, amidst disaffected teenagers, while Julst watches on, his face streaked with happy tears. This attempt to free men from Dionysian restraint is both liberating and lighthearted; yet it offers a solution. Julst addresses a universal male need for a healthy outlet, as well as hope for the possibility of one. Dancing in the square to a waltz is not as impractical as it sounds. (Marla Seidell)
Through August 2 at Monique Meloche Gallery, 118 N. Peoria.