The Fussy Eye: Lost in the Woods

The idea of encountering art amid leafy ravines and lawns is attractive: You stumble upon some statue in a glade, then consider how it relates to the natural landscape. But the Center on Contemporary Art's Heaven & Earth II doesn't work that way. A reprise of last summer's group show, it includes nearly 20 pieces by a dozen artists scattered through Carkeek Park. Any show that gets art out of the galleries or museums sounds great, but indoors you can actually find and identify the stuff. The problem here is both too much and too little information. If you simply wander, you might find half the objects in sight of the road, picnic areas, and visitors center. Then you'll wonder at the little white markers (numbered 1–13), which offer no artist information at all. And what's that weird barcode-looking thingie? Turns out—when you're back home at your computer, to also print out the map from the show's website—it's the "QR Code" your iPhone or Android mobile can read (special software required). Oh, fine, now you tell us! Seriously, CoCA, WTF? If you want people to discover art, you then punish them by withholding information? But if visitors must first methodically prepare with map, compass, GPS, canteen, sunscreen, boots, and smartphone, where is the discovery? Most of the art here—that I could find—is fairly pedestrian, though Julie Lindell's Orchard, trees made from old wood scraps, at least gestures toward its arboreal setting. Down at the beach, without benefit of markers or curators, are assemblages of driftwood, like anonymous amateur Andy Goldsworthy creations, to be carried away by the tide. Best in show, perhaps? (Through Sept. 26.)

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