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Signs of Life

Some people argue that all of human cultural history boils down to communication and its signs -- not the signs we encounter daily on the street, but semiotics, the elements of meaning that surround us in infinite forms.

John Randall Nelson’s exhibit, “Alter-Native Signs,” incorporates a different type of everyday sign: Recycled street and traffic signs from the Scottsdale Transportation Department. Crafted in two and three dimensions, his works including a 15-foot tall weathervane sculpture utilize signs to invite a dialogue about significance in our multicultural society.

Like the meanings they invoke, Nelson’s works are layered. From a distance, their lively forms -- rabbits, plants and coyote men suggestive of indigenous imagery -- appear to mock the staid stick-people adorning pedestrian signs. Nelson’s works are anything but pedestrian, however. Approach closer, and additional words and images emerge from their near-burial in paint.

Thu., May 5, 6-9 p.m., 2011

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