Team Lump, an artists' collective based in Raliegh, North Carolina, brings to town a group show that bears out the spirit of its name (titled after an obscure Fifties pulp novel): cleverly studied patheticness. Not that pathos is a bad thing. Crafted from modest materials, every piece seems to have sprung from rigorous self-deprecation, emerging beset by and defiant of their scrappy origins, in equal measure. Megan Sullivan punctuates the gallery with crudely hand-stitched oversize renditions of Gold Toe men's dress socks that dangle from the walls, exuding a profound awkwardness that brings to mind a most unhappy cubicle culture. A video by David Colagiovanni records the destruction of small ceramic sculptures (created by Team member Jerstin Crosby) that are also on display, haphazardly reassembled. Colagiovanni has digitally manipulated the sound of the clay pieces smashing to the floor, to the point where it sounds like a pipe with a slow leak amplified a thousand times, or a comic audio effect from an old Warner Bros. cartoon. Aptly, the sound functions as the theme song for the entire show. Rough water-color sketches on crumpled sheets of letter-size copy paper; tiny magazine cutouts of dangling men; piles of paper airplanes fashioned from rambling confessional letters; a centerpiece that looks like calcified toothpaste on giant toothpick legs. All of it has the feel of throwback slapstick: deliberately funny, gravely orchestrated. Two framed pencil drawings by Lump mastermind Bill Thelen depict a maniacally grinning sunglass-and-hoodie-wearing figure and a stoic bald man; elsewhere, a white T-shirt hangs, the words "Laughter Within" lettered in fuzzy block type across its chest. At once madcap and mournful, these blithe-seeming items are also not-so-secretly tough, holding strange and bold lives deep within them. Through July 7 at Good Citizen Gallery, 2247 Gravois Avenue; 314-348-4587 or www.goodcitizenstl.com. Hours: noon-5 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and by appointment.
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