The New York Times
Art in Review

November 28, 1997, Friday

By Holland Cotter


526 West 26th Street
Through Dec. 5

''Cambio'' (''exchange'' in Spanish) is another in a series of group shows organized in temporary spaces by the artist Kenny Schachter. As in the past, young artists are on hand, the energy level is high to manic, and lively ideas (some better than others) fill the air.

The 23 participants are particularly interesting for their geographic spread: half live in Mexico, half in the United States. (The show is presented in cooperation with the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York.) But the work is mixed together and looks comfortable that way, further proof of the international melting pot contemporary art has become.

Several of the Mexican artists introduce culturally specific themes with a wry spin. Eduardo Abaroa hides Day of the Dead-style skeletons in artificial flowers; Artemio photographs himself dressed in a king-size sombrero on a trip through Europe; Sergio Munoz-Sarmiento contributes photographs from the Mexican-Texas border, where highway signs take on symbolic meanings, and Alfredo Martinez builds a (non-functioning) motorcycle from scraps of plastic in what could be read as a tribute to a culture in which almost everything gets recycled. Best of all are Vincente Razo's little sculptures: clear plastic pyramids based on dashboard amulets seen in Mexico City cabs, here crammed with subversive cultural artifacts.

Daniel Guzman's drawings and the paintings of Fernanda Brunet and Edgar Orlaineta are on a wavelength with cartoon-derived work in New York, but much of the painting in the show comes from United States artists, including Brendan Cass, Ruth Root, Tricia Keightley, Rodney Taylor and Jacob Williams, as do most of the installations, including Amy Gartrell's Barbie-scale rock garden and Mr. Schachter's copy of a Gerhard Richter painting subjected to a perpetual spritz.

Like all of Mr. Schachter's shows, this one confirms that art is alive, well, unpredictable and all over the map. ''Cambio'' will be reconstituted in Mexico City (same artists, different art) in the spring, and will have a New York extension at the Sandra Gering Gallery in January.

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