I don't have time to get a full review up of Vanitas, a group show at Hedreen Gallery that's up through today. But I want record several really interesting works by artists you might not already know about.
1. Sam Whalen's series of paintings on bedsheets, made using the following materials: "fruit punch Kool-aid, blue raspberry Kool-aid, soy sauce, instant coffee, Pepsi, hot sauce, mustard, L'oreal hair dye in dark ash, mold, and bleach on white linen bed sheet." Each one is a portrait of someone who died on Whalen's birthday, 1/30/91. I thought they were all murdered or came to some terrible end, given their twists and turns in the paintings, but that's not the case. They were just regular messes of creatures, like any of us.
2. Alice Gosti and Jim Demetre's video. Gosti reads an essay Demetre wrote (full text) exploring the "patriarchy, homoeroticism, camp, sex, and automobile races" in the 1965 Blake Edwards movie The Great Race. The text is sprawling and incoherent, a parody of academic writing, and the pie keeps flying onto the determined female reader in the pretty yellow dress.
3. Brandon Aleson's two videos. In Blood Let, which runs an hour, he clinically performs self-cannibalism. A phlebotomist takes his blood, he cooks it into blood sausage, he eats it with fork and knife. (Watch in full.) The shorter second video is a reboot of the classic Dutch vanitas painting theme of rotting fruit.