Visual Arts

Bright Ideas

Remember when your first-grade teacher said that without the abundant rays of the sun, the Earth would die? Humans can't get enough of the stuff, and nothing proves our sentimentality for shine like the work on display at "Molten: Glass and Neon Art" at Mesa Contemporary Arts. The four featured artists create a show in which glass captures light in pieces that range from elegant to quirky.

Edward Kirshner's Tall Chalice of Chaos is a cross between a flower vase, a martini glass and a jellyfish. The slender glass stem is lined with a fluid stream of blue light that breaks into rays, each hugging the bowl's curve to end in a bright salmon hue. The colored light dances on the surface of the glass, slightly churning as you move around the piece. This, along with his other similar works, is gorgeous, mesmerizing, and belongs in some sort of high-class corner office.

Homogenization by Jason Chakravarty may not be as office-appropriate, as it demonstrates a curious melding of familiar imagery and sneak surprises. This glass work is a scale version of a snack-time milk carton. The cutesy item conjures ideas of innocence until the glass catches its own tangerine glow to reveal the facial contours of a small severed head inside. It's a split personality piece that is as funny as it is disturbing.

James White offers large-scale imposing works like the wrought-iron Table Dance, a full-scale table and chairs embedded with a single bright yellow tube of neon, that provide a more industrial edge. And Eric Franklin's Persist, with its delicate glowing glass tubes protruding from a connective center line (much like a spinal column or centipede), is a perfect birthday gift for your teenage goth-kid.

While neon and glass may be the connective thread here, the show offers more. Kirshner dazzles with his use of beautiful light as a centerpiece. The other artists employ neon beyond the obvious. Chakravarty proves to be the most in-depth as he denies any gimmicky neon and fully melds it with his unexpected visual combinations. Overall, the show's variety is a sure-fire way to turn on even an art neophyte.