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Christa Dalien's "Ice Storm" hits a memory familiar to Midwesterners: the beauty of the sudden glasslike coating on every plant part, paved surface and building façade that also brings broken branches, downed power lines and car accidents. Her installation, at the northwest corner of Central and 10th Street, takes up one of the more difficult spots for artists involved in the program. At first glance, the white, gray and blue vinyl sheets that hang jaggedly from the roof, anchored with visible zip ties, appear cheap and ugly. But Dalien has wisely used a number of these pieces to evoke the whimsy of ice in summer. As with real ice, the panels perform when their translucency is most apparent, so they're best when the evening light starts slanting through them. Unlike ice, they ripple a bit and allow the sun to add to their variation.
A heavy rusted triangle sits like an anchor on the little corner of lawn at 11th Street, where the Lyric Opera building rests without a tenant. "By Land, By Sea, By Air" is Robert Goetz's tribute not to Winston Churchill's 1940 call to arms, as the title suggests, but to the imaginative proclamations of the artist's 2-year-old daughter. It takes some effort to make out the cutout block letters, but along the sides are three of little Goetz's utterances: "I am a big yellow bear queen," "I'm swimming like a robot whale," "I am flying to you." The angularity and weight of the sculpture, with pieces that the artist says could be used to make prints, make this seem like a curious medium for conveying the spontaneous expressions of a child. Then you realize that, in her statements, the girl is expressing feelings of power: bearlike strength, a whale's command of the sea, the capacity for flight. And don't we all still wish we could fly?
Sue Friesz is well-known for her bubbled, two-dimensional representations of flowers. It's good to see her moving this aesthetic into a three-dimensional interpretation that finds its place outdoors. Her style shines through — the leaves of "Planta Triformis" are flat and layered in space like paint brought to life — and there is something very satisfying in the way each metal frond is slotted firmly into its concrete base. Her choice of pinks is equally pleasing, and the conversation this piece seems to be having with one of Jun Kaneko's "Water Plaza" ceramics across the way is another reason to linger here.
Stewart Losee's "Non-Traditional Landscape" also uses triangles, and the tetrahedrons together look much like a giant wasp's nest, daubed high onto the side of Bartle Hall just south of 12th Street. Losee uses a home-built CNC (computer numerical control) router to make these forms, and he has filled the spaces between with postcard-type photo clips that are illuminated at night. In daylight, you can't miss the clump of exposed blue cables, and the mountains, rivers and forest scenes tend to resemble the kitschy, plastic, back-lit wall decorations popular in 1970s taverns. Looking at the pictures close up to see their details requires you to crane your neck, and even that affords only a protracted view. The easier approach is to stand across the street and let the images blend into abstract color. Viewed that way, the work comes back into scale, dwarfed by its human-made surroundings as a flying insect's home is proportionate to the world around it.