"Toying Around," a holiday exhibition at Barnsdall Park's Junior Arts Center (to Jan. 31), leads one to presume that this is an event for children, but such is not the case.
Showcasing work by nine assemblagists, the exhibition includes numerous pieces that require a fairly sophisticated frame of reference to be understood. Dave Quick's and Glenn Close's "Pullus Galactus," for instance, is a tongue-in-cheek plan to send a rubber chicken into space. It's a very funny piece, but unless you've read the extensive documentation posted well above the eye level of a 5-year-old, it's hard to get the joke.
Jim Jenkins' "Tapping and Stirring Cups," consisting of two motorized cups and spoons, is another case in point. A cheap metal spoon stirs loudly and incessantly in one cup, while the second is continuously tapped by a spoon that sits beside it. One must be of voting age to understand what an exquisitely subtle form of torture this is.
Other pieces are just plain scary. Push the button that triggers Bill Lundby's "School Bus" into action and a small toy school bus plummets to hell, accompanied by the sound of children screaming in terror. John Hanor's wooden "Man in a Boat" looks more like a Day of the Dead corpse in a coffin, and standing guard at the entrance to the exhibition is "Con Fron," two massive, clanking wooden robots by Jim Jenkins--one of these mechanized giants is screwing the head either on or off his buddy. Bill Lundby and Joyce Hesselgrave's "Cat Toy" is a combination shrine assemblage complete with votive candles. At the center of the shrine is the image of a white mouse dangling by the scruff of the neck, poor li'l thing.