Visual Arts

Identity Crisis

Most of us spend our 20s trying to understand the mix of parental influence, pop culture, personality and irrevocable decisions that put us on our current path in life. Figuring out how and why you became the person you are is the most basic puzzle one can try to solve. "Unraveling Identity," a group exhibition at TruRes (formerly Studio LoDo), puts that question to seven Phoenix artists and gets answering work of uneven quality. Painter Randy Slack gives the most resounding glimpse of his own origins in a pair of 12-foot-high paintings.

Anyone who grew up in the 1970s will recognize the imagery in Slack's Welcome Home. A child in a leisure suit stands in a roomful of Carter-era furniture: avocado-green chairs, a harvest-gold sofa and a furniture-store painting of a conquistador on the wall. The kid has a halo straight out of a 14th-century religious painting, and he's surrounded by a surrealistic herd of cartoon cows. It's a psychological portrait of the middle class and its nonsensical mix of sentimentality, bad taste and conformity.

In another painting, Slack shows the outcome of a childhood in the shag-carpeted shallow end. A naked man who looks a lot like the leisure-suited boy sprawls across a table in a sparsely furnished room, his mouth open in a primal scream. It's cliché to whine about the shallowness of the suburbs, but Slack's period details make the complaint feel fresh.

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Leanne Potts