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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIONAL

"Convergence 2001: On Canvas" packs into one relatively modest display an exhilarating range of painting styles by artists who, as guest curator Elizabeth Licata says, "veer toward the representational." The Carnegie Art Center exhibition begins Saturday with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. and continues through Oct. 27.

Bruce Adams does this veering by painting pictures based on photographs of people looking at paintings in galleries around the world, including Buffalo. A lot of complicated looking is going on: The observers depicted look at (mostly) old masters, at each other and occasionally out at us, as though they expected us to step into the picture and join them.

The emotionally charged people (sometimes portraits of the artist's daughters) and humanized animals in Polly Little's paintings are anything but calm observers. They exist in fanciful, almost childlike, settings made stranger by the roughly incised wood blocks that bookend some of the images. Michael Herbold's landscapes, by contrast, have all the romantic features of pre-industrial times - unhurried clouds, gorgeous sunsets and trees silhouetted by a light that seems more radiant than even nature can supply.

If Herbold avoids contemporary realities, A.J. Fries embraces them. He finds both absurdity and delight in images of junk food - big images of a Twinkie or a Ho Ho or Oreo cookies floating in a glass of milk. As close as Fries gets to the human gaze is a jug of Kool Aid with a smiley face drawn in the condensation.

The Carnegie Art Center is located at 240 Goundry St., North Tonawanda. Call 694-4400.

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