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New York Summer Exhibition Highlights: Bradley Castellanos, Lissa Rivera and Sam Tufnell

Three alumni shows currently on view offer bold visions from each artist and idiosyncratic application of their sensibilities and talent. The work spans painting-collage, photography and resin sculptures, and grapples with location and memory, identity and expectations, and the life of objects (including trash and tchotchkes). Common among all three is a fiercely specific engagement of personal process and philosophy.

Drawing on his youth spent in the titular "Sunshine State," Bradley Castellanos (MFA 2006 Fine Arts) conjures scenes of overgrowth and groovy hues, rendering his memories in kaleidoscopic patterns and near-psychedelic flora. The works are multi-step and many layered: paintings and photographs are collaged, re-photographed and digitally manipulated, then further reworked once on panel with precise paint application and an X-Acto blade. Houses and jungles, verdant palm greens and moody blues are flat, graphic and shimmering all at once. Created is a different kind of regional painting, evocative and specific, recognizable in feeling and tone, like a distant recollection or a dream. On view at Ryan Lee Gallery, 515 West 26th Street, through June 29.

The photographs that comprise "Beautiful Boy" began as an effort on Lissa Rivera's (MFA 2009 Photography, Video and Related Media) part to offer her friend BJ, the redheaded subject of the series, the freedom of gender-expression he felt he had had to abandon after college, during which he wore mostly women's clothing. The result is a suite of vibrant photographs, both editorial and cinematic in styling, that feature BJ, now Rivera's partner, in impeccably set-designed surroundings, be it a roadside motel or a Venetian flat; dressed in delicate dresses as well as more dramatic outfits and poses; or reclining in the nude, à la art history's many examples. Here, gender-fluidity looks like a striking, mutual exploration of identity and compassion. On view at ClampArt, 247 West 29th Street, through July 15.

"Inappropriation" lines the walls and peppers the floorspace of Castle Fizjohns gallery with lit-up busts and 3-D still lives, acrylic resin casts that are illuminated and nearly neon, the texture and colors of incandescent Jolly Ranchers. Sam Tufnell's (BFA 2002 Fine Arts) figures are decidedly, purposefully recognizable—Batman, Ben Franklin, Marilyn Monroe—or ubiquitous if ignominious—plastic water bottles, crushed cans. The sculptures are reminiscent of Mike Kelley's glowing cities of Kandor (Krypton's capital), perhaps with a Koonsian gloss of mechanical fabrication and pop culture. But these source materials are largely found, or bought at the supermarket, the mundaneness and commercial-kitsch appeal replicated over and over. On view at Castle Fitzjohns, 98 Orchard Street, through July 6.

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