Past is Prologue 

As we head into the shiny future, artists march boldly backward.

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Other than our depression-surviving grandparents, who never stopped reusing bread bags, artists may have the most to teach when it comes to working with what's available. Here are five spring shows that demonstrate how old things, and ideas for that matter, can be reused to make something new. Plus, admission is free.

Onward to the '60s

Kazaan Viveiros's painted panels contain multiple, seemingly disparate images, including realistically rendered vignettes of nature or man-made objects overlapping sections of flat, hard-edged color or painted patterns. At first glance her stylistic borrowings appear to align with postmodernism, yet Viveiros's imagery is too centered on visual pleasure to reject art of the past. Reminiscent of pop art by painters such as Larry Rivers, her relaxed style and painterly proficiency produce pure escapist fantasy. For her upcoming show at Page Bond Gallery, she'll be paired with Richmond photographer Gordon Stettinius, an artist who, like Diane Arbus, another child of the '60s, captures familiar subjects in strange circumstances. May 1-May 31. Also check out, running at Page Bond through February, “Maggie: Photographs by Emmet Gowin and Elijah Gowin,” a collection of photography by a father and son, who each spent years recording the life of one woman, Margaret Ennis Booher Cooper, starting in 1961. 1625 W. Main St. 359-3633.

The story lives

Nearly missing from contemporary painting for decades is the kind of narrative found in Da Vinci's “Last Supper,” Courbet's “Burial at Ornans,” or Picasso's “Guernica.” University of Richmond Museums found four painters who are keeping the tradition alive, each finding new ways to integrate representation with technical approach. Erling Sjovold, the university's own associate professor of art, provides some of the most imaginative and confounding gems. Borrowing strange perspectives and an effusive painting style from Baroque masters, Sjovold keeps viewers in suspense by painting a tense line between syrup and utter ecstasy. “Form and Story; Narration in Recent Painting” at the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art runs through May 15. Also check out the selection of snapshots by Andy Warhol from his archive of photos of the friends and freaks that surrounded the man and his era of New York history, running March 20-May 15. 28 Westhampton Way. 289-8276.

One man's trash

Susann Whittier creates artful patterns with discarded objects she then disassembles. Once, she covered gallery walls with large flowers made from the wooden hammers she pulled out of a trashed piano. An assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, Whittier is driven to find value in what others deem valueless. In her hands, abandoned pieces and parts regain integrity and even elegance. For her show at Quick Gallery this spring she invents pattern and rhythm with objects and images relating to the human body. Parts of sewing pattern illustrations, and deconstructed shirts and shirt collars are but some of the materials given new life. March 6-April 18. 311 W. Broad St. 644-5450. S



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