tracer art II

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Libby’s great post about Trace commented on all the obsessive, process heavy pieces in the big, 29-artist show at Rosenwald Wolf.

I agree with that. In addition I found that the works all seem to have coded meanings and refer to things not obvious without the Cliffs Notes. This is my attempt to do a little decoding. That’s all. Mostly, if you have time and your imagination is warmed up, you should make up your own back story. That’s always the best when encountering what seems like unbreakably coded work.

Take Roxy Paine‘s “Untitled” blob (top) made by one of his sculpture machines (pictured right). Paine’s extruded sculpture, a perfect, impersonal, factory-made object, is both abstract sculpture and the perfect representation of a blob.

More beautiful than a car and both more — and less — sculptural, it’s 100% art about art but about life, too. How about that slump — pure gravity works on plastic just like it does on flesh. This could be a cartoon of an aging Henry Moore sculpture.

Bill Walton‘s small, packing case jammed with wood, “Spring crate,” (shown left) somehow captured my fancy more than any other work in this very good show. The piece is modesty personified. It sits there self-contained and elusive, like a unique human being in a crowd, watching, hoping, ready for an encounter.

The small monolith drew me back to it like a magnet. I got on my hands and knees to see it better. If an art show could have a mascot (an embodiment of the ideas it contains) this is it. I’ve seen Walton’s work at Becker Gallery, and recently in “Open” at Arcadia. (see my post) Walton uses simple materials, crafts things beautifully (he often makes his own nails) and explores the world of object making. There’s a dignity here and a kind of Emersonian self-reliance.

Walton received the second Lois Fernley award from Arcadia recently. It’s a big honor, and it’s most deserved.

Kalipods and sprawl on the wall

Romy Scheroder‘s “Kalipods,” platinum silicon mini-ghosts or stagmites echo Paine’s blob. (shown right) Little white things placed on the gallery’s steps and in one case growing horizontally out of a fissure in a wall, they’re little whatizits. The artist told me they represent part of a story she’s working on having to do with genetic engineering of new life forms that eat pollutants. (Kali is a fierce Indian warrior godess).

I, too, like Libby, needed help locating the little warrior pods but once clued it, Stella and I went on a little treasure hunt and found them. Without the back story, I would have guessed they were ghosts — maybe of Leonardo daVinci and other artists known for their process-heavy works kind of checking out the show.

At the opening, Anne Seidman, artblog contributor and pal, told me several stories about her piece “Smart Move,” the tape-on-wall work that sprawls across the gallery’s signature curved wall. (pictured) The title, for example, comes from Uhaul, the moving company, as does some of the tape. In fact, “smart move” appears on some of the tape. The tape is a remnant from when the artist helped another artist move from one place to another. But there’s other tape, also remnants, from installations including the artist’s own, and an installation by Jim Hinz.

Seidman told me a story I only half remember now. Something about how she was reading a Frank O’Hara story “Why I’m not a painter,” in which the author recounts seeing a painting by Mike Goldberg during two stages of its creation. Apparently O’Hara was horrified by how things had changed over the course of the painting’s making.

And so here we have a new creation, recycling old creations with thoughts about the stages of creation (and the stages of moving) built into its making.

Finally, a word or two about Eileen Torpey‘s untitled ink drawings. The three works reminded me of cloth patterning, in one case compressed as if via computer program and in another case sprawing across the paper like unravelling thread.

The mark-making came together like calligraphy, many stylized marks trying to tell a story of something or other.

Torpey, a New Yorker, told me at the opening that she organizes a one-day art event called “Drift,” in which a group of artists make temporary, site specific work, some of which is ephemeral. (She staged Drift on a Hudson river pier and some work floated in the river). Get in touch if you’re interested.

That’s more than you want to know and far less than what the show deserves in terms of back-story. But like I say, go look and invent your own stories. That’s better.

And see my sketch in next week’s PW for another extruded thought or two.

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