Humorous titles lighten Florida artist's message

Roger Palmer's paintings on paper at Marcia Wood Gallery probably contain the most sophisticated examples of seeming silliness you'll find this entire art season. At second glance, it only looks like silliness, but it stays funny.

Palmer's style reflects the training of a mature painter, turned back towards the look of kids' art and topped off with strange and occasionally politically pointed titles.

"Polar Bear With Emergency Marine Radio," which depicts pretty much what it says, is obviously related to the headlines of global warming.

"Puppies in the Bamboo," on the other hand, is an irresistible drawing in Chinese-brush style that shows stalks of bamboo with small dogs clinging to them.

Palmer's style really takes off, though, when his imagination ranges freely over a townscape and gives the whole a peculiar title. "Crematory Garden for Dogs" gives us a cheerfully colorful collection of various trees and a building we wouldn't associate with anything if the caption didn't tell us.

"Freedom Feels Like a Flightless Bird Wild in the Streets" features a delectable hodgepodge of buildings and passing trucks. The title sends us off on a "Where's Waldo" search for the bird.

The strange gulfs in between the happy-talk look of the images and the often darkly poetic content of the titles are only one of the things that make this one of Marcia Wood's best shows yet—and the competition there is tough.

Palmer hasn't been a household name in Atlanta lately, but this return show reminds us why we liked this Florida artist so much the first time around.