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With rotting food and strange beasts "Threshold" examines the mysteries of life

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For “Threshold,” an exhibition on view at 801 Washington Lofts, four artists celebrate the mysteries of life forces. Through photographs, paintings, and drawings depicting vegetables, animals, food items, and spiritual metaphors, the artists investigate life and death with all the beauty and ugliness those things entail.

Ellie Kingsbury’s series, There Are No Perfect Moments, looks like it could have been taken from the set of a Cinderella film. The photographs, printed on handmade tissue paper, have a mystical look to them, as if the dreamlike vegetables she photographs will soon be transformed into magical carriages and sleighs.

In the series, Kingsbury takes things that are considered past their prime, things such as produce from a CSA that someone didn’t have a chance to eat in time. Under her gaze, they become beautiful images, heightened in their droopy splendor.

Similarly, Mark Granlund takes food past its sell-by date as the subject for his paintings, which are based on 16th- and 17th-century Flemish vanitas. Vanitas were beautifully realized paintings, still life, which included skulls and other symbols of death.

In Granlund’s series, we see a rotting tomato on a plate, or the last bits of a pair of carrots that have been eaten. We see mold growing on an eggplant, and a pair of fish, eyes and all, sitting on a plate, uncooked. These food objects aren’t appetizing. In fact, they’re rather repellent. They don't, as Kingsbury's images do, elevate the images of decay into something approaching beauty. Instead, they proudly share their grotesque presence with the viewer. 

Meanwhile, Cynde Randall’s paintings employ nature, with imagery drawn from Hindu stories that are sometimes punctuated by Sanskrit. Unlike the other artists, Randall’s works are unabashedly symbolic, diving into a spiritual aesthetic realm that is a more up-front than the others (though in some ways the other's approach spiritualism through the back door).

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Of all the artists, Steve Ozone’s photographs are perhaps the simplest, but the most arresting. His work depicts exotic sea creatures and life forms, hovering against a black background. Some of the animals look almost alien, in part because of the reverential way he photographs them, bringing out their curious details and elevating their powerful auras.

IF YOU GO:

Threshold

Through January, 2016

801 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis