The Mad March Show at Mad Art Gallery (2727 South 12th Street; 314-771-8230 or features two artists whose work is imbued with a strong sense of narrative, albeit an open-ended narrative that must be finished by the viewer. Jeff Brawn refers to his paintings as poems, and they feature recurring elements such as a morose girl and sere trees, elements which create a mournful rhyme scheme. Michael Baird's soft sculptures, made of sheep skin stuffed with polyester fiber fill, stitched up with string and topped with taxidermy eyes, are a little more jolly — and a lot more creepy. At first glance, especially if you're not on the side with the eyes, these creatures bring to mind the giant brontosaurus leg that tumps over Fred's car in the opening credits of The Flintstones. But those eyes, those unblinking eyes that examine us as we examine it, these transubstantiate the piece into something alive — something like us, walking meat bags who can communicate complex emotions through a withering stare or coquettish glance askance. Baird's sculptures tap into that inanimate/animate conundrum, summoning memories of the affection we lavish on stuffed animals and the lives we imagine for them, and the shame at letting go of those lives once we ourselves reach a certain age or state of mind. The Mad March Show opens with a free public reception from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, March 6. Mad Art is open Tuesday through Saturday, and the work remains up through Monday, March 30.

Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: March 6. Continues through March 30, 2009

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