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Childhood dreams

By Chas B. Speck
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 24, 2000
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George E. Huffman's paintings of childhood experiences dramatize a world of delinquent behavior among adolescent peers.

His childlike - not childish - style aligns Huffman with expressionistic graffiti painting, yet is reminiscent of cartoons like South Park.

The paintings present a cast of bright bodiless characters with bird-legs that float freely in abstract space.

The figures are separated from a richly textured background of gooey flesh tones that look like used bubble gum taken from under a table and smudged together.

Unlike so many local artists, Huffman does not take himself too seriously.

The paintings do not present his solution to world problems. Huffman uses humor and wit to reach the emotional truths of his memories of childhood.

The subjects of the paintings range from "Whippin' Apples at Cars," to falling out of tree forts.

Most of the scenes in the paintings depict the moment after a violent act. In the painting "Heidi Bit Joey Once," a crowned Heidi smiles coyly while a bewildered figure frowns in the background.

Although the works deal with violence, Huffman finds common moments that people can relate to and laugh about.

"Because God Made Me Do It," is an example of a piece that satirizes religious fanaticism. In it, a dough-like figure holds a gun over its victim while a religious figure peers down at them.

Although it can be read as a social criticism, the work is a glorification of child imagination. It depicts a moment of fantasy between two children enacting a game of Cowboys and Indians.

The paintings are located in memory, and Huffman does not claim any documentary truth. The show's strongest when viewed as a testimony that all art does not have to be traumatic.

"High Field Diaries" is available for viewing at the Raw gallery, 43 S. Sixth Ave, until March 4.

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