Also falling short was a mixed-media painting by Sentrock titled thought I was a real bird, which depicted a human face popping from an opening in a stylized bird's stomach. I'm not sure whether this was an autobiographical statement or a representation of a dream or something else — again, the point of this piece, not very well rendered, completely eluded me. And slapping a clever title onto a tired image of '60s radical Angela Davis (or maybe it's Phoebe Snow singing into a tape recorder) silk-screened, maybe spray-painted, onto pegboard, as Jules Demetrius did in Aerosoul, doesn't magically transmute a stale pictorial into something profound or even marginally engaging.

Ultimately, there were two real surprises for me in this year's Chaos Theory. Probably the biggest surprise of the evening — and a pleasant one, at that — was Jeff Falk's Good Job, a mixed-media canvas incorporating, among other things, weathered pieces of children's homework, pages from old children's primers and ripped-up dictionary entries. Center canvas is a vintage cartoon of a winking sunflower face surrounded by a star and an "A," two long-standing staples in a grammar school teacher's arsenal. However, the sweet nostalgia suffusing the piece is quietly undermined by that unsettling winking sunflower.

A backside view of Hector Ruiz's sculpture Kill Your Idols
A backside view of Hector Ruiz's sculpture Kill Your Idols
One of Us by Jason Rudolf Peña
One of Us by Jason Rudolf Peña
Carrie Marill's Qberty
Carrie Marill's Qberty

The less pleasant surprise of the evening was Carrie Marill's Qberty, lent by Scottsdale's Lisa Sette Gallery. The far from stellar gouache on paper features an unremarkable pattern of different colored stacked blocks. It's a mediocre, second-thought representation of the artist's current work and should never have been submitted to "Chaos Theory." If I weren't already familiar with Marill's art, would I even bother to see her current two-artist show at Scottsdale Center for Contemporary Art? Probably not.

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