Sculptures convey varying meanings

December 17, 1991|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

Scott T. Pina's wood and steel sculptures, at Nye Gomez, reveal a lot of possibilities. The two materials play off each other, becoming opposites that resemble genders: the wood physically strong and rough, the steel by comparison appearing supple and graceful. The fact that several of these works are in something like human scale only reinforces the impression.

Then there are the changing attitudes of these works. To a greater extent than most sculptures, the changes depend on your point of view -- and I mean your physical point of view, where you stand. Like some sculptures, they seem to have a front and a back, but at the same time they aren't entirely frontal because the view from both sides, or sometimes all sides, appears to be equally valid. "The Sheltering Storm," for instance, shows its "back" to the center of the gallery, an almost voluptuous curving shape in deep-toned steel. From the other side, the shape acts more or less as a protector to the vertical wooden element nestling in it. This can suggest an opening flower, or sexual symbolism, or the protecting and nurturing parent-child relationship.

There's somehow a chameleon-like change in these works even when viewed from a single point of view; "Acute," with its single leg opening into a hood-like mantle over a crouching wooden element, may be a pious monk kneeling in prayer or an attacker about to strike. In a sense these help to make the viewer aware of his own state of mind.

Deborah Donelson's works, primarily of women, include elements of painting and drawing, plus words. And, as she notes in an artist's statement, they reflect various influences, including folk art and the faux naive. But, perhaps because there are so many influences, these works fall short of communicating the deep feelings that surely went into them. It is perhaps a case of an artist who tries to put too much into every work, and the result is some confusion.

In the "front" or office gallery are photographs by Jim Long of nudes, mainly of interactions between men, more and less frankly sexual in nature. The better ones are those, such as "Quietly, Alongside," or "Of Rest," which leave more implied than stated, and in which the light that caresses the bodies reflects the sensuality of the subject matter.

The show runs through Jan. 11 at Nye Gomez, 836 Leadenhall St. Call (410) 752-2080.

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