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Best Place to See Truly Baffling Performance Art Phoenix 2000 - Barlow & Straker Gallery

Would you expect anything less than bizarre from a gallery named after two vampire antique dealers from a Stephen King novel?

Opened in early 1999 by fledgling art czars Ryan McNamara and Andy Guzzanato, Barlow & Straker is the ne plus ultra of local performance spaces -- and it rarely performs below expectations with a lineup that's wild, weird and wacky -- but rarely fathomable.

Take, for example, last year's "Squeak and Clean," a performance by Phoenix artist Angela Ellsworth and collaborator Tina Takamoto. While Ellsworth exercised for two straight hours on a NordicTrack in a gigantic exercise ball hooked up to vibrating massagers (attached to large bars of soap, no less), Takamoto simultaneously scaled a gallery wall in rock-climbing gear and made gestural drawings with her feet.

Well, maybe you had to be there. We were -- and we're still trying to figure it out.

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