Every now and then you meet someone whose output--in this case, Nik Meisel's artwork--makes you wonder about the input. Whimsical isn't quite the word (and besides it's often overused and misconstrued), yet there's a certain child-like wonderment with bits and pieces of everyday life that's both odd and charming. Rubberbands and string laminated to create a page, a jar filled with breadties and wrapped in fishing line, a book with all the images cut out. Things reference other things which reference other things. And places and states of being. As indecipherable as the neural networks inside the brain until you pull back and consider context.

Elemenoh, for example, is Meisel's most recent installation at Saranac Art Projects in Spokane. The title, said Meisel, "comes from my experience as a child trying to find my initials in the alphabet by repeating the alphabet as a verbal mantra where after "k" came the word elemenoh and then 'p'."

He adds: "It was an occasion where I was using the wrong tool to investigate and was consequently being misled."

The piece, which uses letters, pages from a book, a dead tree, yarn and other items, resembles the vaguely familiar form one might have in a dream. It's slumped along the floor like a body that could easily be about to evolve or decay back into the ground. Some of the pages float like tendrils hanging from the tree as you make your way through the forest, maybe lost, maybe not. Memories are like that; they can go either way on us.

On his website, Meisel talks about how his work develops out of play..."culminating in a sort of forgetting and remembering of assumptions and possibilities." There it is again--that fine line between odd and charming, an in-between quality that catches one off guard and invariably twists into a smile of recognition. Maybe even envy.