Holly Holmes’ exhibition, “Distress,” highlights the contrasts between nature and industry, between utopia and ruin, and how destruction is both grimly and playfully portrayed. Rolling green hills and a mountain’s dark shadow contrast with a bright orange sunset, while lava-spewing volcanoes, a rust-colored factory and several skyscrapers interrupt the idyllic scene. Disproportionate spacing between objects purposefully accentuates the unnatural forces at work. Even more apocalyptic is a cluster of nuclear cooling towers sitting on a dark brown landscape. Industrial pollution fills the turquoise sky with specks of gray and black, while pea green and burgundy hues line the inside of the tower. In other paintings, nature takes on ironic, artificial and human characteristics. Knots in tree stumps look like polka dots, particularly when shaded violet or green. Fish swimming above oil drums and beer bottles appear to wear lipstick. White herons wearing red-haired wigs stand with legs crossed atop melting icebergs. Holmes’ plunge into dystopia proves to be oddly comical. Illustrated interruptions of ideal landscapes relate anxiety about the real world. (Ben Broeren)
Through March 1 at GARDENfresh Gallery, 119 N. Peoria.