Two babies cry: one after emerging from a gaping vagina in a hospital, the other a disproportionately large baby mask perched atop a slender 26-year-old woman with chipped pink nails. These are the lasting images after our sneak peak of Jillian Mayer's "Family Matters," at David Castillo Gallery. As the name suggests, the artist's first solo show tackles arguably the most formative of influences -- family. On one screen, we watch Mayer give birth to herself and think: Is she really showing the full frontal birthing video of herself being born? Yes. Yes, she is. Although it's not the first piece you encounter in the gallery, it sets the right tone. From the first breath, life is messy: it's striped in blood and flecked with gray tissue. It's pain and it's joy. And even for the passive voyeur, there's a sweet release of tension when baby Mayer lets out her first throaty cry. It's like the newborn Mayer wails in recognition of the sometimes cruel/mostly awkward world she somehow anticipates. Twenty-six years later, the baby is now a multimedia artist using video, sculpture, and performance to guide us through the battlefield of growing up.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. Starts: April 9. Continues through May 7, 2011