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Art, scissors, paper

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The paper-themed exhibitions at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center are about as bipolar as they come.

Like the "Love" and "Hate" tattooed on Robert Mitchum's knuckles in The Night of the Hunter, there is good and evil, and -- to completely belabor the pulpy metaphor -- works that soar like airplanes and others that lie as limply as a grease-stained McDonald's bag.

Local projects are devoted to paper proliferation (Atlanta artists' mail art) and critique of pulp waste (Marilee Keys' poetic paper garden crafted from junk mail).

But maximum fun unfolds in the traveling Paper Sculpture Show that dominates the Contemporary's largest gallery. Like some Wonka factory, the space is given over to plywood work stations designed by artist Allan Wexler and outfitted with the accouterments of convalescent rec rooms: scissors, glue, tape and rulers.

On plywood tables are 29 to-do projects by paper-centric international and national artists stacked into neat piles. There are contributions from bad grrrl artist Nicole Eisenman; egghead graphic artist Chris Ware; and Sarah Sze, whose three-step template allows viewers to build their own coffee cup. The scent of saliva on bleached white paper in Rachel Harrison's "Straws and Spitballs," a cheeky how-to lesson in juvenile delinquency, will surely unspool memories of middle school bus rides spent staring at gooey nodules cemented to Naugahyde seats. Visitors are encouraged to take their project(s) of choice (Thursday nights, 5-9 p.m.; entrance is free) to their work stations and get busy. In a further evocation of childhood refrigerator-art glory, pushpins are provided so visitors can tack masterworks to the gallery wall.

Less pleasant school dayz memories are evoked in the gallery devoted to a local pulp phenomenon, the Robert C. Williams Paper Museum at Georgia Tech, and it's the kind of bone-dry, pedantic exhibition your parents dragged you to over tortuous "educational" summer vacations. The exhibition devoted to watermarks and a photographic survey of the museum's mission lays an instant bummer on the interactive, DIY-cool factor of The Paper Sculpture Show.

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