Scientific studies of birds on lithograph tend not to mix well with political satire. Or maybe that’s conjecture. I certainly haven’t tried it; seems a bit counter-intuitive. But the superimposition makes perfect sense to famed printmaker, John Alexander — who also toils away with landscapes, woodscapes, and studies of fishes and plants. Not in the exact same works, of course (John’s a Texan, a Beaumont boy, and in those parts folks tend not to mix their peas with their mash), but you’ll find all of the above tucked into the corners of his studio.

Even though his more social-commentaryish stuff is rougher-hewn than the studies, they’re what ultimately led him to the remarkable renown he enjoys today, with work mounted on the walls of such cultural arbiters as Mick Jagger and, um, Sly Stallone. But forget Sly for a moment — these are striking images. Lifeless men in business suits, hideously adorned in what look like long, pointy dunce caps over their faces, sitting around in ugly gray places that look ready to suck the life out of them the moment they express any feeling. Or another work called Madonna & Child that looks like sacred iconography from a satanic version of Planet of The Apes. The Eaton Gallery’s current “A Painter’s Prints: John Alexander Retrospective” is stirring enough that the whole thing’s headed to The Smithsonian the moment it leaves here. It’ll be at Eaton (435 Gardenia St., West Palm Beach) through January 26th. Admission’s free, and the gallery’s open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Visit www.eatonart.net, or call 561-833-4766.
Dec. 12-Jan. 26, 2007

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Brandon K. Thorp