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    New Year's Spice
by Paul Laster
Chris Kysor
Set for the Upset
at CRP
Janet Zweig
Artificial Life
at the Rotunda Gallery
Perry Hoberman
The Center for Cultural Opportunity
at Rotunda
Perry Hoberman
The Center for Cultural Opportunity
Nina Levy
at Eyewash
Karen King
CA 1998
at Eyewash
Lisa Hein and Bob Seng
Exit Exit
at Flipside
Kristen Mosher
Local Park Express
at MetroTech
James Carl
at MetroTech
Tony Matelli
Stray Dog
at MetroTech
Nam June Paik
The Chase Video Matrix
at MetroTech
From funky Dumbo to fashionable Williamsburg, the bohemian B-scene is the place to find fresh faces. One such is Chris Kysor, a young Texan who was schooled in Boston and who is now making his New York solo debut at CRP, the ultrahip gallery located at 100 Water Street in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood. Run by artists Todd Kancar and David Schild, CRP opened at the end of 1997, and quickly became a gathering place for young, conceptually oriented multimedia artists.

Kysor's paintings of overlapping silhouettes manage to toy with low culture while referencing high modernism. They have a colorful hallucinatory quality that is like '60s Pop graphics and posters, and are also reminiscent of works by Francis Picabia and Patrick Henry Bruce. Prices range between $1,000 and $5,000.

"The Lottery" at the Rotunda
The Rotunda Gallery in Brooklyn Heights keeps luck alive with "The Lottery," a group show organized by Lenore Malen that focuses on games of chance as interpreted by 14 Brooklyn artists. Janet Zweig's Artificial Life is a furry, computerized creature that tells fortunes. It resembles a headless poodle-sphinx with only two front legs and a rather large tail. Visitors think of a question, stroke its left paw three times, then squeeze it to get an answer. I asked the beast, "What do I think of this show?" It spit out the reply, "Don't put your faith in false prophets."

Another winner in "The Lottery" is Perry Hoberman's installation, The Center for Cultural Opportunity. Step onto the red carpet and you've arrived! A robotic voice announces, "Welcome to the Center for Cultural Opportunity. Please go to the end of the line. You are currently #2,229. Now serving applicant #261." After a short pause, the bureaucratic machine that's in control of this process declares, "Attention applicant #27. Your funding has been revoked due to the inappropriate content of your work. Please return all funds immediately."

"Photic 2" at Eyewash
Chock-full of images, "Photic 2" at Eyewash in Williamsburg conjures the spirit of Man Ray with a show of 16 artists who use photographic processes in their work. It turns out that Man Ray actually spent his formative years in this Brooklyn neighborhood. This energetic environment must have nurtured the young Dadaist in much the same way it effects today's artist .

In Man's footsteps, Laura Carton makes camera-less prints of erotic body parts, Heike Bartels creates a kinetic light work in a water filled-bathtub and Lynn Cazabon weaves film and video strips to resemble giant fabric swatches. Nina Levy photographs herself with sculptural body parts to surrealistically alter her appearance while Jennifer Sloan fuses facial fragments with building blocks that make a puzzling display.

An iconmaker with a Warholian touch, Karen King gives instant gratification to her subjects by scanning their photo IDs and then digitally printing them on canvas. In CA 1998, for instance, Tina Lyons stares passively from her California driver's license through an emblematic veil of purple and white holograms. King's style of portraiture can start the clock ticking on your 15 minutes of fame the moment you open your wallet. Prices at Eyewash range from $500 to $4,000.

"Exit Exit" at Flipside
The last stop in Williamsburg is an installation called "Exit Exit" by Lisa Hein and Bob Seng at Flipside gallery. Saying goodbye to '99 and anticipating '00, this handy-with-a-hammer team has constructed a wall in the gallery with two doors. As if at a fork in the road, the visitor must rely on intuition and luck in choosing a route. One door leads to the flash of bright light that might indicate success, while the other door stops you dead in your tracks. When it comes to your destiny, it's all a matter of finding the right portal! A bargain to be had at $4,000.

Public art at MetroTech
For the seventh year in a row, the Public Art Fund has installed a group of new works in the downtown Brooklyn development known as MetroTech Center. "New Urban Sculpture," as the show is titled, featured commissions by five artists. The Australian James Angus literally throws the commission out the window with the fantastic Basketball Dropped from 35,000 Feet at Moment of Impact. Realized with the help of a computer-aided design system, Angus' bronzed Spaulding is an eerie simulation of a collision that remains forever frozen in time. The ball can be in your court for $4,500 at Gavin Brown's Enterprise.

Equally awesome in this towering sprawl of downtown Brooklyn is Jason Middlebrook's Grand Entrance at the Commons. Middlebrook built a false facade of carved and painted Styrofoam that suggests a gateway to suburbia -- a metaphoric portal for those travelers who envision a rosy lifestyle beyond the city's congested streets. And to help you make the trip, simply take a seat on Kirsten Mosher's Local Park Express. With a park bench and floral planter on scaled-down railway tracks, this imaginary commute can take you wherever your heart desires.

If you're still trying to get where you're going as night falls, be sure to take note of Sharon Louden's Tangled Tips, a sculptural lighting project visible at the tops of several trees in the common. Made from luminescent wires that brightly glow in blue, this gestural installation casts a supernatural impression of electric snakes moving through an urban jungle.

The art installations extend into the lobby of the MetroTech 1 building, where Canadian artist James Carl shows off his handiwork in the form of cardboard replicas of an ATM machine, an airport X-ray machine and a Fed Ex drop box. Carl's witty Dupes are meticulously crafted surrogates of familiar urban objects. An indoor garden version of Kirsten Mosher's Local Park Express can also be found here, along with Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz's three surrealistic Trees, held over from a previous exhibition.

Brooklyn artist Tony Matelli, last seen in a solo exhibition at Stefano Basilico's now-closed gallery in SoHo, unleashes an apprehensive allegory with Stray Dog, an uncanny replica of a yellow Labrador retriever fitted with a lead for a blind master. Matelli's polymerized seeing-eye pooch seemingly wanders the Commons, lost without his missing and dependent companion.

Another kind of parable is presented by Korean artist Do-Ho Suh's Public Figures. Suh turns the traditional monument upside down by presenting a large white pedestal supported by a procession of several hundred miniature bronze figures. The heroic here is not to be found embodied in a statue above, but with the masses below.

Two impressive sculptures by Tom Otterness have been on permanent display on the MetroTech plaza for several years. And the Chase Bank Center lobby holds works by Bruce Nauman, R.M. Fischer, Dan Flavin and Nam June Paik. Paik's The Chase Video Matrix, an installation of 429 televisions that fills a wall space 18 feet high and 60 feet long, is a multichannel extravaganza that shows the artist at his mesmerizing best.

PAUL LASTER is an artist who lives in Brooklyn.