Expressions of ommm–Beach, Takeda and Oberst

IMG_4816 Dennis Beach
Dennis Beach, Spin #1, acrylic on panel

Dennis Beach continues to live up to his name–riding perfect waves of wood and color to create Op Art oms that vibrate with the universe, at Schmidt Dean. The exhibit of 12 pieces includes columns, tubes, and sunspots. At least that’s what they look like to me.

IMG_4815 Dennis Beach
Dennis Beach, Bump #1, Acrylic & Epoxy on Wood (the recesses are a deep blue-y purple that vibrates in much the way that the pure pigment spots in Anish Kapoor pieces do)


There’s a funny tension here between Beach’s sense of control and my idea of the surfer dude dream to be one with the universe, where control is given over to some oceanic higher power channeled through the body and mind for a transcendent experience.

IMG_4813 Dennis Beach
Dennis Beach, Sustain, Acrylic & Epoxy on wood

Nonetheless, the color-drenched objects Beach makes vibrate with some kind of magic that doesn’t really come through in photographs. They are worth a visit. The plain wood columns, however, stay earthbound. I prefer the good vibrations.

Paul Oberst, Acoma/Ancestors in the Sky, detail of top, entire piece is basically a log standing on end 85 x 13 x 13", Silkscreen ink on wood
Paul Oberst, Acoma/Ancestors in the Sky, detail of top, entire piece is basically a log standing on end 85 x 13 x 13″, Silkscreen ink on wood

That same search for some kind of connection to transcendence is also what’s up at Bridgette Mayer Gallery, where Paul Oberst and Clint Takeda have filled the space with objects that seem like they couldn’t possible have something in common.

IMG_4843 Paul Oberst
Acoma/Ancestors in the Sky, detail

In Temples, Towers & Totems, Oberst’s chain-saw-clunky temple/figures gain their strength through their surfaces, which Oberst wraps with colored fabrics, paints and stamps with words–the same ones over and over on top of themselves until they are close to unreadable. While I find the words disappointing and expected once I can make them out (soul, happiness, etc.), reading them does require me to slow down and relax–a definite positive that drives me to examine the surfaces, which are rich with marks and stresses of various kinds, from cracks and knots to saw marks and the fabric.


IMG_4849 Paul Oberst
Paul Oberst, (left to right) Summer Orange Creme, Mica, Chaco, Nonesuch, Mesa Verde, all approx. 86 inches high, more or less.

I liked a big one with a pueblo on top, made of one piece of wood, fabric stuffed into the cracks in the wood like Asian prayer cloths. I also liked a series of five wall pieces in the back, the series of colors luscious and precious. These six pieces suggest that there’s something unreachable and fabulous and sacred at the top. The sense of yearning is palpable.

IMG_4833 Clint Takeda
Clint Takeda, Queen Ernst of Silver, polyurethane, resin, wire, alkyd enamel and acrylic paint, 42 x 21 x 14 inches.

In his exhibit Transfigured, Takeda’s sculptures seem at first blush to be the complete opposite, made of high tech materials, using iconography that references video games and fantasy tales that look frontwards and backwards in time, all at once. Some are gods. Queen Ernst of Silver, a large (42-inch) figure in the vault is a power player who makes me think of the red queen in Alice and Wonderland. Some are vulnerable and gnomish, like Green Man, a tiny creature of 13 inches perched on the edge of a shelf.

IMG_4838 Clint Takeda
Clint Takeda, Wish, polyurethane, wire, resin and enamel paint, 22 x 10 x 8 inches

But Takeda doesn’t limit himself to human shapes, and the mysterious forms suggest stories about dangers and quests and magic. I especially liked Wish for its pear-like shape and its tender-looking surface and belly.

IMG_4840 Clint Takeda
Clint Takeda, Green Man, polyurethane, wire, resin and enamel paint, 13 x 4 x 4 inches

I couldn’t help but think that like Oberst, Takeda too is looking for something unreachable, some fantastic realm beneath the daily world in which we live. He’s just taking a different path with a different set of touchstones–maximalist fantasies instead of asceticism.

In the swirling global culture mash that we all have inherited, we have a candy store in which to choose what feels right to each of us. All three of these artists have made different choices, but in some sense, I hear them all chanting, ommmm.