There's something about the way Mark Dutcher portrays disembodied images—stringy, splattered with primary colors and chock-full of organic shapes—that definitely echoes the style of Spanish surrealist Joan Miró. His paintings are not conventional by any means, and they might make you blurt out, "Bah! My third-grader could do better!" Perhaps, but locked inside his seemingly childish approach is a puzzle for us to assemble. Let's face facts: When people think of death, they usually don't see it as something bursting with a million pretty colors, and martyrdom for sure doesn't look like a 2-year-old's birthday party, all cutesy and precious. But Dutcher's work is more than that, somehow. It's a conglomeration of sights, sounds and recollections that requires a closer look. Death and other eerie situations never looked so pretty.
"Mark Dutcher: Shelf Life" at Huntington Beach Art Center, 538 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 374-1650; www.surfcity-hb.org/visitors/art_center. Open Wed.-Sun., noon-4 p.m. Through Dec. 16.
Hey, guys, do you recall when the grown-ups were all, "Oh, high school, the best years of your life?" Ha, remember THAT lie? Now we all know that college (high school without the fake ID) is the most fun you'll ever have—and most of it is fun you're not supposed to be having. It's the benefit that comes with surviving what, for some, are the most difficult years of their lives in order to come through the other side: freedom. And these shenanigans have been going on since the ancient Greeks! Thus the Theta Delta Whatevers and the Sigma Phi Epsilons and the Nonny Nonny Hey Heys. Put aside the nasty tradition of hazing—not funny, guys—and you still have the long-standing tradition of partying long and hard. Animal House, the iconic college film starring SNLgreat John Belushi, succeeds in hilariously celebrating youthful freedom, indiscretion and smoking weed with your professor.
Animal Housescreens at Regency South Coast Village, 1561 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 557-5701; www.regencymovies.com. Wed., 7:30 p.m. $6.