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Art in America

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Rebekah Bogard at the Sheppard Rine Arts Gallery, Univ. of Nevada

Rebekah Bogard's fantastic ceramic animals combine cat and rabbit ears, sweet snouts, rams' horns, curving wings and undulant slender tails: her shrubs are stacks of bubble shapes and her outsized toadstools are capped by a circle of plump hearts.  Using hand-built, low-fire earthenware, she creates a magic playland of these ebullient hybrids.  In this show, their habitat included walls painted with a pale blue sky in which white clouds floated here and there, and with low, yellow-green hills, turning the gallery into a meadow. Since 2000 Bogard has won numerous awards in the ceramics world and shown extensibely west of the

Mississippi; this is the most confident work of her young career.

Each of the mammalian  oddities is intimately engaged, weather curling up on its back to blissfully lick the ventral side of its own tail in A New Romance of gazing at its companion in the midst of encircling butterflies in Distract Me (all works 2006).  Valentine, flowers, candy colors and "tattoos" of polka dots and art-nouveau-like patterns produce a sensuous spectacle.  The scale is inviting: a viewer wants to pet the animals, which are the scale of small dogs or cats.  Hard surfaces and fragile materials resemble soft flesh or vegetation cushiony enough to seat someone comfortably.  Warm pinks add especially to the welcoming effect, blushing into lavenders that heat the cheeks and inner ears of members of Bogard's gently erotic community.  Whether munching rose petals or poised belly to belly, these creatures clearly know the meaning of happily ever after.

---Joanna Frueh

Above: View of Rebekah Bogard's exhibition "Love & Leisure," 2007; at the Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery

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