Two sculpture shows emphasize 10-year-old group's past, future

June 30, 1994|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

Changes are in the air for Sculptors Incorporated.

The group of sculptors and art enthusiasts formed in 1984 to promote sculpture, but tended to do large group shows with many artists represented by one work apiece. This approach has produced inconsistencies in both style and quality.

Now, says chairman Tex Andrews, "we want to do tighter, more focused, more professional shows." That means fewer artists showing in more depth.

Currently, Sculptors Inc. members are involved in two local shows -- one of the old school and one of the new. Surprisingly, the old-style show is better than one would expect and the new-style one not as good.

At the City Hall Courtyard Galleries, "Decade" celebrates the group's 10th anniversary by showing one work each by 40 artists. A range of styles is represented, from Barry Johnston's traditionally figurative "King Lear" to Frieda Sohn's modernist abstraction "Genesis" to Jim Opasik's humorous dragonfly made kitchen implements called "Odonata," to thoroughly contemporary work by Mark Moreland, John Ruppert, Jim Paulsen, Allyn Massey and others.

This sort of show can be a mishmash, but in this case the works have been selected well and the installation looks good.

Moreover, each artist is represented by a photograph and a statement, which gives the show added interest -- though some of the statements are the usual pretentious boilerplate.

Among the best works here is Ruppert's cast bronze "Eclipse," which has such strength and presence that it dominates its space. Moreland's "Untitled," made of old pieces of wood joined into a vaguely human shape, possesses an odd dignity at the same time that it seems consumed by anxiety. Dave Yocum's "Fire and Ice" nicely uses disparate materials -- neon, ceramic and clear acrylic. Nicole Fall's painted bronze sculptures that look like menacing sea creatures work best in large scale, but her little "Jacob's Ladder" manages to have an effect. Jim Paulsen's bronze "Lifescape/Sentinel" shows him going in a different direction from his previous work, adding more subtlety and a touch of humor.

At Metropol's gallery space, Scot Cahlander, a Sculptors Inc. member, has curated a show of four artists' works that he calls "Sculpture: Outside the Lines." In it, each of the artists combines sculpture with other media (drawing, photography, etc.). A focused show like this is usually a stronger exhibit than a catch-all group show. But this one is lopsided, with two of the artists more successful than the other two.

Tex Andrews plays with the idea of appearance vs. reality. In "Hydrology/Hygrometry Test" a drawing of clouds and a photograph of water are attached to wooden beams with heavy metal bolts. It's the bolts and the beams that look more substantial here, but in reality water and air are the two most important substances to all life.

Ellen Burchenal's "Cumulus Shift" wittily combines a drawing of clouds on the wall with sculptural legs and feet "attached" to the clouds. The effect is of legs "walking" a cloud, and in Burchenal's drawing the clouds have round, disc-like pieces popped out of them and floating around, as if the cloud were a solid. Burchenal's and Andrews' works nicely complement each other, each making a point about the interdependence of all living things in a different way.

Lee Lehnert makes a related point. With "Anonymous Origin," involving a photograph of fish strung up, and with "Foe or Friend," involving strips of flypaper, he comments on how we treat our fellow inhabitants of the world. But his work is somewhat obvious.

Daniel Sullivan's conceptual exercises, on the other hand, are simply too secretive for the viewer to benefit much.

ART REVIEW

What: "Decade" at the City Hall Courtyard Galleries and "Sculpture: Outside the Lines" at Metropol

Where: City Hall, 100 Holliday St.; Metropol, 1713 N. Charles St.

When: At City Hall, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, through July 8. At Metropol, 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sundays and Tuesdays through Thursdays, 6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, through July 25

Call: City Hall, (410) 396-4721; Metropol, (410) 385-3018

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