Wire sculptures recall Calder


September 15, 2005|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

Herman Williams III, a former television talk-show producer and brother of TV talk-show star Montel Williams, is exhibiting some of the fanciful copper-wire sculptures he has made since childhood this month in Fine Lines, From the Heart at Sub-Basement Artist Studios.

Many of the pieces recall the whimsical wire figures of Alexander Calder, with their cleverly crafted joinery and (mostly) monotone copper surfaces.

Among them are a free-standing, near life-size figure of a crouching man, another near life-size portrait bust that projects an astounding psychological presence and a diminutive wire sculpture of a boy on a bicycle, which the artist constructed for a fifth-grade art project.

Although most of Williams' pieces are static, wall-mounted works, some are designed to be suspended from the ceiling, which allows them to slowly turn in response to air currents like Calder's signature mobiles. (Some pieces, both static and mobile, are designed to cast intricate shadow patterns against the wall behind them, allowing the play of light to define duplicate, virtual images of themselves.) Most of Williams' sculptures are abstract, although even his most nonrepresentational pieces often display figurative elements.

Many of the pieces contain recurring motifs, such as hands, stars (or perhaps flowers) and crosses. The titles of these works usually are general enough to encompass a wide range of interpretations.

The copper strands he employs are at least four or five times thicker than coat-hanger wire and, as a consequence, are much more difficult to work into the intricate shapes that characterize his sculptures.

Williams says it took years just to develop the strength in his hands required to fabricate his pieces -- and, it would appear on the evidence of this show, a lifetime of experience and close observation of his subjects, as well.

The show runs through Sept. 25. Sub-Basement Artist Studios is in The Atrium at Market Center, 118 N. Howard St. Hours are by appointment only. Call the gallery at 410-659-6950 or contact the artist directly at 443-722-1733.

For more art events, see Page 34.

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