What: "Chad Shore: Beyond Lost and Found;" "Rachel Landers: The Voyage of Discovery;" "Juan Alonso: I Refuse" and "Art of Our Mothers"
When: Through June 4
Where: Quinlan Visual Arts Center, 514 Green St. NE, Gainesville
How much: Free
More info: 770-536-2575
A 6-foot bunny handed carnations to the ladies while a life-sized green army man posed next to a painting of a machine gun.
It might sound like a crazy dream, but it wasn't — it was all part of the opening reception for Chad Shore's solo exhibition, "Chad Shore: Beyond Lost and Found," which will be on view through June 4 at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville.
About 56 pieces by Shore fill the Quinlan's center gallery, ranging wildly in subject matter and media.
The Gainesville native skips from pop art to abstract, from whimsical to political, all the while focusing on surface and color to create a sensory experience for the viewer.
"You want to try to hit on as many sensors as you can as an artist," said Shore, 40.
"That's what makes a good recipe for good art or a good show, or anything," he said.
He said he uses mixed media, acrylic and oils, sometimes "probably four or five things you're not supposed to put together," to create what he calls a "high end finish."
"If you go by and you rub the back of your hand on the painting, it's probably the smoothest thing you've ever touched in your whole life," he said.
"Not only do you get to see it, not only do you get to experience the meaning and what it looks like and the really high pop colors, then you can actually touch it."
In "When I Grow Up," a painting of a little boy in a toy plane, Shore focuses on our aspirations, both as children and adults.
"His face and hands and everything are the same color as the background," he said.
"He is so into wanting to become, like, a pilot, that his face and skin — he has become the sky, because he loves it so much. He has become the thing that he wants to be."
Other paintings take a somewhat serious turn, with a focus on politics and the military.
"I kind of grew up in a military family, so when you have that in you, you kind of have to respect, and don't lose what you've already built up (as a country)," he said.
In "Heart and Soul," Shore's version of an American flag urges viewers to take pride in their country.
"We don't have much of a backbone as a country right now," he said. "I'm saying, hey, you know, don't forget who we are, where we came from, and the colors kind of represent that ... we bleed red, white and blue, you know what I mean?"
Shore said paintings like "Hope and Change," which features a hot pink and black bomb, and "Distributing the Wealth," an image of an M-16 machine gun, are based on quotes from President Barack Obama.
"They're all Obama quotes that I'm kind of, like, throwing back in a sarcastic way," he said.
Amanda McClure, the Quinlan's executive director, said two other exhibitions in the center's smaller galleries also focus on local up-and-coming artists — "Rachel Landers: The Voyage of Discovery," featuring Landers' abstract art in her first show, and "Juan Alonso: I Refuse," a photography show.
"His show is really something different, too. He has two distinct elements," McClure said of Alonso.
"He does these very moody black and whites of old barns, and he also has these intense, colorful, very up-close views of portions and pieces of locomotives."
Another exhibit, featured in the Quinlan's Green Street Gallery, is "Art of Our Mothers."
"We took this opportunity to really showcase artists that are mothers," said McClure.
"Each artist that got in was able to submit a letter from their child or grandchild about what it's like having an artist for a mother, so it's this really special, honoring kind of show."