Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Gallery Crawl (Part 2)
The second leg of the Gallery Crawl takes us to Liberty Avenue, the Three Rivers Arts Festival Gallery and SPACE. These venues offer group shows with a wider variety of works and noticeably larger crowds.
The Three Rivers Gallery is home to two exhibits this season both of which are fairly heavy on installation art. The second floor features “Deliciously Disposable Earth”, a critical look at the impact of mining through the eyes of artists. Curated by Carolina Loyola-Garcia, “DDE” is an international show with both figurative and literal connections. Clayton Merrell embodies this duality. Raised in Pittsburgh and Puerto Orday, Venezuela, Merrell’s studies have taken him around the country and eventually back to the Steel City. “Six Copper Mines” represents his experiences in Arizona and New Mexico. Each is painted on scrap copper and depicts a particular copper mine in that area; they are at once exquisitely beautiful and mindful of the environmental destruction of this industry. Much in the same vein are Janet Rainwater’s charm bracelets, “Miner’s Peril” and “Enslavement.” The beauty and value of these gold objects is obvious, but as we dig deeper we find the darker association of greed, enslavement, war and death. The delicate charms—coffins, slave ship, hangman’s noose—are suspended from shackle-like links and serve to remind us that we cannot escape the legacy of our precious objects. Itamar Jobami’s video/sculptural installation, “Blood, Men, Earth” depicts a young man opening a wound in his torso from which blood flows into a rocky pool. The stream is a video projection—a wonderful piece of “trompe l’oeil” which causes the viewer to momentarily wonder how the liquid drains and recycles. The figure and pool are constructed much like a topographical map and the underpinning implication is the destruction of both man and his environment.
The third floor of Three Rivers showcases works from the staff of the Mattress Factory. (Unfortunately, the Crawl was closing night.) Mixed media pieces by Katherine Young (Pandora’s Boxes) and Susan Sparks (Ink, Tape and Magic) were impressively arrayed as multi-piece series. And one end of the gallery was dominated by an untitled installation by Lindsay O’Leary. This cotton candy confection is something straight out of Aristophanes replete with Mylar balls and silver sharks.
The final stop on my crawl was SPACE, the large glass-front gallery on Liberty Avenue. Here “Hot Metal”, curated by Ed Parrish, Jr., offers a potpourri of sculpture and assemblages. Various metallic materials are welded, cast, filigreed and crumpled to create a myriad of interpretations. In the latter category Gary Smith’s “Aluminum Foil Warriors” could be called “kitchen kitsch”—cyborgs whose construction is a parody of both subject and material. Michael Dominick’s “104-39 116th Street, Queens” has the added dimension of the skills of a plumber. The functional boiler and radiator take the “hot metal” theme seriously, as several patrons discovered when they placed a hand on the artwork. At the opposite end of the gallery stand the richly detailed sculptures of Oleh Bonkovikyy. His “Eagle” with its wings spread and perched on a sphere has the folk art feeling of a Nineteenth Century weathervane. By contrast, the individually fashioned feathers and menacing talons proclaim the hand of a skilled artist. And by the window, against the backdrop of the nocturnal city, stands “Glass Sun.” The weight and symbolic majesty of the piece could easily cause one to mistake it for a shrine from some ancient mystic civilization.
There were many other events on the Crawl some with refreshments and entertainment. And an after hours party on Sixth Street. But the best part is there will be another one in a few months.