Justin Robert Bower bleeds and stares. He is not subtle. There is no portent, no foreboding. There is only wound. You can take away the same lessons as from Lorigan, but with louder screams.
Showing several large works in the Grand Central rental gallery, Bower creates the self as Frankenstein's monster. Dividing a face into quadrants, he misaligns them so they leer crazily, askew like Shannen Doherty's. They're monstrous, cadaverous and toxic.
Bower is not a hopeful man, and he's not a shy one either. Head Injury is blood—blood coating everything thickly, the hands, the face from which wide blue eyes stare. The rest of us cloak our pain at least a little; it's the modest thing to do. Bower labels his. Biology Lesson shows a man's mottled face. "Boil" points a bullet. "Scabies." "Toxic." There's no Joni Mitchell here; we are not star dust; we are not golden.
We are boils and scabies. We're poison. There's no getting ourselves back to the garden.
James F. Lorigan and Justin Robert Bower at Grand Central Art Center, 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 567-7233. Open Tues.-Wed. & Sun., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat., 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Lorigan: through Oct. 26; Bower: through Sat.