At last, after this long and freezing winter, April has arrived. Fling is just around the corner, the end of the semester is on the horizon and the sun (hopefully) is about to warm our aching bones. Even First Friday attendance in January, February and March has been somewhat sparse -- with the occasional bundled-up art lovers braving the cold -- tomorrow may be the day when the jackets can finally come off, and the galleries might be able to leave their doors open.

Like most of the galleries that partake in First Friday, the Painted Bride is banking on the weather cooperating at its opening (free to the public, 5-7 p.m.). Not only because there would be more visitors to their quaint space on Vine Street, but because it's new exhibition, Paradise Paved, takes this theme of weather that we have all been thinking about since that one warm day last month and pumps it with environmental controversy. Even though it is unsurprising for a gallery to make a political statement, Paradise Paved still attempts to make its viewers aware of the trouble our environment is really in ... and just in time for Earth Day.

Curated by Stephen Perloff, the show consists of five photographers' work. All works concern environmental issues, ranging from giant frames of wilderness shots to smaller photos of human versus nature showdowns (a freight train barreling through the mountains, or in a more direct case, a close-up of trees marked for elimination).

Though these photos are aesthetically pleasing, Perloff urges the viewer to think about the content. "We have to try and get your attention, so we seduce you with the beauty of the photograph," he explains. "But the point of these photos is to get you to look at the issues at hand right now." By "issues" he means the environment. By "right now" he means that the problems have swelled, fueled by the Bush Administration pushing for more drilling rights in the Arctic (among other things). "These photos all show longstanding problems. But let's face it, with Bush, it's the worst it's been in decades," Perloff stresses.

The Painted Bride may be sitting in the heart of an urban city, but its newest exhibition asks viewers to look at the controversy and scandal surrounding our environmental problems. As usual, the art world takes political matters into their own hands. Let's just hope the weather doesn't take a turn for the worst.


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