In the Galleries - Com'on to My House at Atrium Gallery

Christopher Tanner at Atrium Gallery -  Hand in the Pool of Maria Montez
Christopher Tanner at Atrium Gallery - Hand in the Pool of Maria Montez

In the Galleries - Com'on to My House at Atrium Gallery

Painted shells, bullet casings, geodes, driftwood, beaded appliqués, leather flowers, bronze pennies, cast-off broaches — all things reflective, glittering and near-tawdry make it into this exuberantly excessive mix. Cue the title track — Rosemary Clooney's rollicking, nigh demonic 1950s torch song/long-time drag standard "Come on-a My House" — and this solo show by New York-based artist, performer and playwright Christopher Tanner gleefully tears off and tramples the dull uniform of restraint and prods you to do the same. Composed of wall-hanging assemblages whose encrusted surfaces summon to mind blinged-out coral reefs, the pieces suggest a world beyond their discrete dimensions. The mandala-shaped Master of the Universe (2010) bulges with ridges of puffed-up leather and swirling detail work in sequins and faux gems — like what a black hole would look like in a glam cosmos. A massive work of nine panels, Hand in the Pool of Maria Montez (2006) riffs on the theme of cosmic and oceanic blue: Mini-constellations of vintage beadwork; small engravings of incongruous phrases ("Doris Day," "Save Me From Myself," etc.); and tiny chachkas (blue Tweety Bird heads, anyone?) mass in an encyclopedic collection of Freudian kitsch — the kind of cheap stuff that rises above the dime-store and sets off deep internal registers of memory, loss and childlike joy. The mad intricacy of the work recalls our own City Museum, with its eclectic, mosaic-like installations of found consumer material. One could easily imagine Tanner's work on a similar scale, but the pleasure lies in its humble intimacy. For all the bombast, this is more of a quilt than an edifice, constructed minute piece by minute piece, at home, held in hand. Through June 17 at Atrium Gallery, 4728 McPherson Avenue; 314-367-1076 or www.atriumgallery.net. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wed.-Sat., noon-4 p.m. Sun. and by appointment on Tue

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