Lighthearted sculptures are unpretentious fun

May 18, 1993|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Art Critic

Sabine Breitenstein's jaunty little sculptures at Galerie Francoise are scarcely earthshaking, but they have the ability to please and look as though they wouldn't grow boring with extended familiarity. Jerry Roe's sculptures in the same show try for more, but don't (at least here) succeed in bringing it off.

Breitenstein's works are made of clay and wood and sometimes copper, and consist of combinations of brightly painted forms -- cone forms, spiral forms, sawtooth forms, spheres, parts of circles.

The artist puts these forms together with varying degrees of success, often based on the colors she uses. The No. 7 here (they are all untitled, so the exhibition numbers must identify them) is one of the most felicitous, with its red cone, yellow spiral and blue and yellow sawtooth. The several elements are well-proportioned in relation to one another, as well. The combination of a black and white striped elongated ellipse form, a green boomerang form, a blue spiral and a red ball also works especially well in the No. 5.

These are small works; fortunately, they are not pretentious, but are satisfied with their own limited scope.

Roe's sculptures of wood and clay look as if they're straining for significance, but they miss. He combines wooden shapes, sometimes representing architecture or furniture, with clay forms, in works whose titles imply considerable meaning: "One Truth," "Before the Fall," "Allegory."

But the meaning doesn't really come through, suggesting that the ideas behind these works perhaps need further development. In "Allegory," a structure in the form of a house sits on the legs of a table, and inside the house is a head, on its side and with eyes closed as if asleep. Where the ear would be is a boat. It's possible to make up a scenario for this work -- sleep, death, boat across the Styx, etc., but the work itself does not respond to such interpretations. As a purely visual object it has its points, but it aspires to a depth that eludes it. On the evidence of the works here, however, Roe has ambitions that he should continue to pursue.

In the courtyard at Green Spring Station, where Galerie Francoise is located, is a group of sculptures made by James H. Perkins from parts of farm implements. He calls them "agri-sculpture," and some of them have real personality. "Bessie" (the cow), made from potato digger chains, lifts her head as cows do when they moo, and "Smith's Tong Leg" is a wading bird with a properly inquisitive look. These are just right in a garden setting.

ART REVIEW

What: Sculpture by Sabine Breitenstein and Jerry Roe

Where: Galerie Francoise, Green Spring Station, Falls and Joppa roads

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays

Call: (410) 337-2787

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