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Irresistibly Weird

Bay Area artist Joan Brown, who died in 1990 at age fifty-two, produced a vast body of figurative paintings with an offbeat, vernacular appeal. This exhibition at Venus Over Manhattan featured a dozen of Brown’s dazzling canvases, primarily from the 1970s, characterized by dreamily composed scenes and highly stylized figures. ...

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What’s In a Face?

In the mid-2000s, Kevin Francis Gray began sculpting cloaked or hooded figures in marble and bronze, their faces hidden by draped cloth. More recent works have featured faces distorted by pockmarks, the marble resembling a dimpled pillow. In Gray’s latest series, “Breakdown Works” (2020), which make up the ...

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Give Peace a Chance

In the 2000 comedy Miss Congeniality, Sandra Bullock’s Grace, an undercover FBI agent posing as a pageant contestant, is asked to define the “most important thing our society needs.” Her initial response—harsher punishment for parole violations—is poorly received. “And world peace,” she adds, a crowdpleaser that fulfills the audience ...

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