5 Art Events for Your Weekend: December 30-January 1

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Anna Elise Johnson — Inner Workings
Cris Worley Fine Arts
1845 Levee St., Suite 110
5 to 8 p.m. Saturday

Anna Elise Johnson’s three-dimensional collages use photographs of political, economic and diplomatic meetings to create small-ish mise-en-scéne containing ambiguous yet striking narratives with characters frozen in time. Delicate mists of spray paint, photography and India ink, suspended in a box of clear acrylic, capture a chaotic stillness between figures that are defined by the void that their absence creates. Is this the past? Is this the present? Is this 2067? It’s hard to tell. Both personally and globally significant themes appear in Johnson’s work; here she explores the impact of our world leaders’ decisions and how to navigate this complex and often frustrating terrain.

Nicholas Troilo — Experiments in Black and White

Haley Henman Gallery
422 Singleton Blvd.
Closes Saturday

For his solo exhibition, artist Nicholas Troilo confronts the dizzying distractions generated by our interactions with digital technology, particularly the smartphone. He posits that the 24/7 connectivity of social media and constant barrages of information are double-edged swords. Troilo’s latest works attempt to answer the question of how to respond to these distractions. Normally an ardent colorist, he decided to work only in black and white this time. By eliminating color, he wondered, would our attention spans increase?

Kathryn Andrews — Run for President
Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora St.
Ongoing through Jan. 8

In her first solo exhibition, Los Angeles-based artist Kathryn Andrew investigates relationships between pop culture and power institutions, in particular how images and brands are used to establish authority. Andrews' work, which combines inanimate objects, historic photos and references to pop culture and minimalism, aims to show how meaning is contingent on context.

As a nod to the current political climate, Andrews weaves together narratives around historical and imaginary candidates, the campaign trail, sitting in office and the end of the presidential term. The exhibition originated at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and has been reconfigured as a site-specific installation at Nasher. Andrews has been known to throw in the occasional reference/jab mocking the seriousness of the Executive Office.

Clay Stinnett — Media Meltdown
Ro2 Art at the Magnolia Theatre
3699 McKinney Ave., Suite 100
Ongoing through Jan. 18

We can only assume Clay Stinnett had a series of dreams in which Leonard Nimoy, Willy Wonka and Julie Andrews (at least we think that's who it is) had dandelions, chrysanthemums and other bright-hued flora and fauna growing from their heads. For his new solo exhibition, local artist/dark horse Clay Stinnett creates vibrant replicas of pop culture, recontextualizing familiar images in a realm of psychedelic botanica. Stinnett describes Media Meltdown as “a concentration of the process of blending unlikely combinations of references and a collision of source material, applied with a frenetic and hyperactive style of mark making.” These hybrid works, neon-infused and sparking like rogue live wires, aim to overstimulate, entertain and confound. With titles like "Tammy Wynette White Lightnin' Mandela," we have to say, Clay: Mission accomplished.

Leah Hairston — Teasarama
Mighty Fine Arts
409A N. Tyler St.
Ongoing through Jan. 22

Leah Hairston’s burlesque queens and pin-up divas romp seductively amongst cartoon characters who were apparently absent for the maturation video in fifth grade. Tossing sex bomb Jezebel-types in with innocent, clueless animated dudes might seem a little corrupt, but Hairston makes it work with highbrow humor and the right amount of tongue-in-cheek playfulness. Her characters are unrepentantly provocative as Hairston walks fine lines of intent, adding subtle wit (again, not too much and not too little) along the way. None of it, though, detracts from the big picture. The result is both naughty and nice.

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Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.