Like an ocean liner or a flying saucer, Art House Gallery (345 Marin Blvd.) is full of portholes. These do not look out the sea or a starry sky. Instead, they’re peeks into a frosty netherworld — one that is brightly illuminated, but where the light is refracted through so much haze that it’s sometimes hard to tell what’s going on. There are people here, too, heads outlined in circular frames, faces partially occluded by mist or peeking through the condensation on the other side of the glass. One porthole contains a glamorous mermaid, attended by three Nemo-like clownfish, staring, astonished, with big blue eyes through a patch of waving purple seagrass. Another porthole opens on lighthouse that flares and dims depending on where the viewer stands. Walk past it and you’ll see it blaze to life; keep going, and the beacon fades to night.
Frank Ippolito from the “Outsiders” series
This trick is the doing of the wizard Frank Ippolito, an artist with a studio at 150 Bay Street, but one whose practice and outlook sets him apart. For one thing, in group shows at 150, Ippolito is the artist whose work needs to be plugged in. Among a local art scene that is often reserved and sometimes even grave, he’s a homegrown generator of industrial light and magic. Ippolito’s frames are lit from within, and the photographs and illustrations beneath the glass often have the quality of objects buried under sheets of ice. Among the characters caught in carbon freeze in “Trans-Lucid,” a show that’ll be on view until the end of the month, are a heavily bearded old sorcerer with an arched eyebrow and knuckles pressed against the glass, a Prometheus figure with purple circled eyes bestowing a burning twig to the viewer, a woman-machine hybrid staring out of a window in a window, face bathed in the red glow of a lightstick, and a family groping forward through the fog, apprehensive, huddled together against misfortune. Frames evoke picture windows, television screens and computer monitors, vanity mirrors, dimensional portals, and in some cases, vintage European portraiture enlivened by jolts of electricity.
Frank Ippolito “Shakti”