Along these lines, Lygia Clark's 1959 wood-and-aluminum "Trepante" ("Climber") and origami-esque "Maquina Animal (Bicho)" ("Machine Animal [Bicho]") from 1962 aren't as successful--although, as I overheard a docent remark, "Clark wanted people to touch and fold and roll the pieces around to understand them." But no sooner had I begun to move toward the sculpture than she added, while staring me straight in the eye, "But I know that we are all grown-ups here and that I can trust you to know that you cannot touch the art." So I let it go.

And speaking of going, don't go before visiting Elba Damast's "The House Within," completed last year. The work consists of a screen hut covered in wildly contorted bread-dough figures, some anatomically correct, some burnt to a crisp, housing an enormous beating plaster-cast heart that glows with tiny blue lights.

This show is not to miss.

Loose Ends
You have until Friday at 5 p.m. to trundle your overheated brain downtown to see the 15th La Phoeniquera at the MARS Artspace in Luhrs Office Center. You will not be disappointed. The show, an annual event at the cooperative gallery, was juried this year by Arizona State University Art Museum director Marilyn Zeitlin. Some of the pieces are noticeably weaker than others. Zeitlin attributes that to "the problem of jurying a show from slides, and not by sight." Still, quite a few works stand out.

Check out Carol Panaro-Smith's "Worship Me Not," a hanging photo collage triptych of female obsessive imagery in alpha-wave-inducing browns, burnt oranges and gold. Joe Willie Smith's "They Keep Trying to Tell Me Who I Am," which won the Juror's Award, is a king-size oil on wood tensely contrasting African and Christian imagery with found objects against a field of aqua. And Joann Terry's hilarious lithograph "Executing a Work of Art" quite simply blew my mind.

I also loved Brooke Molla's "Red Dress No. 1," a long, lovely and quite pointy canvas "dress" adorned with a bloody-looking plastic collar, laced up the sides with thick wire and studded with thousands of needles.

Dos Estrellas Coffee House at Town & Country Shopping Center is bursting at its caffeinated seams. Along with the coffee house, the place shelters a clothing boutique, a Southwestern gift shop and, now, an art space. On view through September 3 are photographs by Richard Laugharn along with images and objects of Thomas Strich.

In this series of work, Laugharn creates new, indeterminate photographic images by clipping his photographs together. "Vault" has a ghostly ellipse, twilight sky and desert flotsam surrounding a cavelike opening in a wall, all from separate photographs, that are allied so cleverly that an entirely new environment, sort of dreamlike, is created. That the images are not slick and seamless (the clips holding the photographs in position are visible) makes them that much more enveloping.

Though I wasn't so enamored of Thomas Strich's monotypes, which weigh themselves down in a messagey sort of way, I love his marvelous bronze tripods. "Orienteering Device" and "World of Words," which incorporates a lettered typewriter ball perched on three delicate legs, are so tactile and visually engaging that, despite their uselessness, the tiny tripods have the air of being useful. On a 16th-century sailing ship, maybe, or during the building of Monticello.

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