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Eternal strength of blood and steel

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Eternal strength of blood and steel
Abstracted Realities: Keith Theriot & Nick Bingham Exhibit
Through Aug. 14 at Gallery at Avalon Island, 37 S. Magnolia Ave.
407-421-5711; free
www.galleryatavalonisland.com

While the horror has receded in the 15 years or so since local artist Keith Theriot first exhibited paintings in his own HIV-positive blood in an independent drug store in Orlando, a following has developed around his evolving "bloodworks" series. His delicate, watercolor-like figure studies have gone quite mainstream at the current Gallery at Avalon Island exhibit and are shown in context with Theriot's acrylic paintings as well as local Nick Bingham's exquisite glass and stainless steel sculptures.

Blood in contemporary art dates back to the 1960s and '70s. Theriot's stated purpose is to keep awareness of HIV and AIDS alive through the use of his blood, and the sacrificial quality of his process intimately ties to this theme. These figure studies sit peacefully next to his highly textured, earth-toned abstracts. Other acrylic figures, like "Evolve Portrait," place humanity in context with the animals and celebrate the human body in Theriot's action-painting style.

The cold steel-and-glass sculptures of Nick Bingham glitter and gleam, and his fused glass process, embedded within the context of steel frameworks, recalls Theodore Roszak, a member of the 1930s Machine Art movement. Pieces such as "Unintended" blur the line between the organic and the machine. Its formal composition and use of found-object steel shapes give it a manufactured essence, but the green, yellow and blue slivers of fused glass dance in the middle, suggesting riverine flows or DNA structures. The abraded steel surface scales with the glass in an organic way that looks, ironically, quite intentional.

"Resistance Is Futile," Bingham's most ambitious and dramatic work in the collection on display, sits in the window. Using colorful fused glass as a bridge between two curved perforated plates, the artist alludes not only to the Borg, the monolithic pop-culture enemy, but to our own struggle with the monolithic message being received through mainstream media via satellite dishes.

These two midcareer artists currently set the bar for exhibits downtown, making for a show that mixes multiple messages together.

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