Fascinated by a viral video of an Indonesian kid smoking cigarettes like they were, to say the least, going out of style, Frieke Janssens assembled a bunch of four-through-nine year-old tykes and shot them puffing up a storm on simulated cancer sticks billowing candle smoke, in order to depict the complex meanings and feelings that make up contemporary responses to the pleasure-poison. It is just as well that the subtleties that Janssens desires to depict get lost in the fun. These kids are as cute as any of William Wegman’s dogs were or the ubiquitous kittens that grace, well, whatever kind of card you think you have to send. A little girl blowing smoke rings makes you glad that you opened a pack and indulged back in the day (or even now); smoking really does have something that makes some of us glom on to it. Janssens gives it to us all in living color, in circular and precise portraits, for everyone to enjoy, whether they’ve sworn off the sauce for so-called health reasons, stuck with it like a trooper, or are just starting out on a quest for experience. Do it, baby! That’s Janssens’ message whether she likes it or not. (Michael Weinstein)
Through May 4 at Catherine Edelman Gallery, 300 West Superior.