Printed sculptures

groomstrafficI’m still in love with the thrill of opening a greeting card or book with a pop-up image inside. The engineering of flat paper into a 3-D “thing” invariably overwhelms the printed image that’s being turned into a sculpture. Think back on all the pop-up books you’ve had. Can you remember what the printed image is on the paper?

So that’s why you have to admit that Red Grooms’ work is something better. I can remember the faces, the magazines, the whole New York milieu. It’s art.

Unfortunately, the small diaramas showing at the Print Center now are in vitrines. I understand the necessity–the fragility and value of the paper works, but the little glass box is so highbrow and cool, the exact opposite of the affect Grooms delivers in his compressed little scenarios.


Grooms’ 2-D prints don’t have the excitement of the 3-Ds, alas, and seem more conventional, but still packed a graphic wallop.

Upstairs, in the “Sculptural Prints” show, some other art stars are in the mix. But the pieces I liked best were by others.

clibanoffLocal artist Lynn Clibanoff contributed some early work– paper, unpopulated spaces with little skylights creating a glow from the interior that are as pristine and surreal as her later work. I’m reminded of Mark Shetabi here.

schullerbirdcageAnd I loved the birds roosted high up in the room by Brant Schuller. There funny confluence of foam core, old illustrational prints in gigantic scale, and blocky wood roosts made me want to reach up and offer the birds my hand for a perch.

sadlershabitatDaniel Sadler’s “shabitat” little houses, decorated with photos of grafitti, old painted billboards and other marred walls, although rather simple visually, still offered a notion of home and hearth and raised questions about the what’s valuable.

But the shabitats suffered from the same problem as some printed boxes and gift wrap. What’s so interesting about a box with pictures on it. We live with advertising-laden boxes daily, and to my eyes, they felt like less of a treat than, say Clibanoff’s diaramas. And the flat prints no way felt sculptural, so in this context, they felt like a cheat. I’d like to see them in a regular print show and give them a fair chance.