There's a reason fairy tales happen in a land far, far away.

There's a reason fairy tales happen in a land far, far away.

"You see so much happily ever after, where a dignified princess meets Prince Charming," said artist Kristen Cliffel, "but there are no electric bills, no water bills, no kids sick at home. The reality is so different than these bloated myths that we glorify."

The Cleveland-based artist's ceramic sculptures, featured at Sherrie Gallerie in an exhibit that opens during Saturday's Gallery Hop, explore the dissonance of real life and the romanticized stories we're told about relationships and domestic bliss.

One sculpture is of a platter of a dozen cupcakes that initially looks like a cute display of confections. But upon closer inspection, one sees icing phrases of "I wish it was bigger," "You drink too much," and "How long is forever?"

The statements bite, and they're things you wouldn't say to someone without sweetening them up first. Not helping the sting is the fact that the cupcakes are oversized, with the sculpture standing waist-high.

"That shift in scale is something I love playing with," Cliffel said. "They don't feel overpowering, but definitely get in your face."

The largeness of the sculptures, which include massive rubber ducks, engagement rings and teacups, represents "an explosion of feelings and emotions that can come out in the course of the domestic stage."

Cliffel, a wife and a mother of two teenagers, said balance is another important metaphor in her work.

A new sculpture is of a teeter-totter, with a house as the fulcrum and a donkey, representing reliability, on one side and a bird, representing freedom, on the other. It's all about weighing what's important and what should come first.

At the jaded heart of Cliffel's art is the truth that while happily ever after may not be possible, inner peace and understanding certainly are.

Rebecca Ibel Gallery

New York artist Almond Zigmund's conceptual sculptures and paper works ask viewers to examine their experience of space in everyday environments. Bright colors and striking patterns heighten the contrast of the space surrounding the art.

Sean Christopher Gallery Ohio

Jesse Chandler is inspired by unique women (she used to stand in the shoes of Judy Garland on L.A.'s Hollywood Boulevard when she needed encouragement). "Totem & Taboo" is a show of her portraits and sculptures that pay homage to fearless females.