Sandler Hudson Gallery's handsome new space on the booming west side makes the work on view seem a little edgier and more interesting in the reflected glow of change. With the incessant crack of nails piercing Sheetrock and sporadic firing of jackhammers

The 55 artists represented by the gallery in Drawings and/or Works on Paper are a dim sum cart of wildly varying flavors, some bitter and some sweet. Melissa Harshman's silk-screens are tributes to a certain outmoded form of female achievement expressed in the telling form of the Jell-O mold. In Harshman's nimble hands, that gelatin vitrine becomes as socially significant and emotionally weighted as Monica Lewinsky's splattered blue dress. What could better convey the precariousness of high-pressure '50s housewifery?

The show is big and artists range from people like Harshman, who makes work with a heady narrative content, to others like the highly amusing Frances de La Rosa, whose witty semi-abstractions give a clear sense of the artist's temperament. De La Rosa's "Monotoast" is a funny forensic study in which the artist has printed three pieces of toast like a criminal's fingerprints, showing the unique variations of air holes and yeasty texture in each one. Like Harshman's Jell-O, the toast is suddenly iconic: as precise and instantly recognizable in its rounded top and straight-edge bottom as a stop sign or exclamation point.

The content of the artworks are dictated by size. The better works make peace with the small scale by treating more humble, personal circumstances. Lilly Canon's two small mixed media works show female figures adrift in a world where their presence is both provocative and insignificant. In "Vanity vs. Wisdom," a woman stands naked, save for a perfectly coordinated pair of red pumps and matching handbag, within a jungle teeming with wild animals. The image neatly conveys a certain female preoccupation with appearance, which can distract one from getting on with the important business of living.

Drawings and/or Works on Paper runs through Jan. 8 at Sandler Hudson Gallery, 1009-A Marietta St. Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., noon-5 p.m. 404-817-3300.



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