Weekly Update — Pentimenti’s summer group show

Here’s my post on Pentimenti. Here it is in this week’s Weekly.

Working with six local artists new to her gallery, Pentimenti’s Christine Pfister organized Think Global, Go Local as a show about relationships.  It’s an exhibit of clean, sleek, beautiful work consistent with the gallery’s aesthetic and has two surprises — an architectural piece that bulges like a pregnant wall of a house and two sculptures that puncture a freestanding gallery wall, their “heads” on one side and “tails” on the other.

Christine Pfister showing how the wall moves on its hinge
Christine Pfister with SURALtmWALL, various dimensions, plywood, vinyl siding, light, 2009. She was showing me how the piece swings on its hinge like a door.

The architecture team of Jason Austin and Aleksandr Mergold designed their bulging wall, called SURALtmWALL, to showcase vinyl siding, that utilitarian material used to weatherize suburban wood houses and cut costs of house painting.  It’s a funny choice for an art material but backlighting the piece turns the thin sheets of sometimes-translucent vinyl into not quite stained glass.  The piece is a weird and hulking beauty.    A massive plywood armature holds the sheets of vinyl and the structure is hinged on one side like a door.  It actually swings on its hinge, although in closed position the work charms the most, evoking not only human habitation but an insect’s hive.  I couldn’t stop thinking of children playing house by turning alternate materials (bedsheets, tablecloths) into “homes” and using flashlights to light them up.  And with today’s push to sustainable architecture the work evokes not only pre-fabs, but huts everywhere made of reused or recycled materials.

Piper Brett, Red Prepositions (49x12x27", red plexi, steel, wall. 2007 White Preposition 49x12x27", plexi, steel, wall. 2007
Piper Brett, Red Prepositions (49x12x27″, red plexi, steel, wall. 2007 White Preposition 49x12x27″, plexi, steel, wall. 2007

Piper Brett’s ribbon-like loops of plexiglas in bright red and white poke through the gallery’s one freestanding wall like they’ve been trapped mid-extrusion.  Sculptors– like architects– love to reference houses, walls and doors in relation to the human body.  Brett’s plexi ribbons are playful and turn the wall into a kind of party present with a bow on top.  Brett, by the way, is also in “Offerings” at Little Berlin and her project there was about the word “wow.”  Here at Pentimenti you can see a hanging steel sculpture of the word “wow” which is so completely deadpan it’s funny.

EJ Herczyk, Avalanche, 90x158" (15 pieces). Casein, resin, digital print on board. 2009
EJ Herczyk, Avalanche, 90×158″ (15 pieces). Casein, resin, digital print on board. 2009

EJ Herczyk’s large and small shiny abstract mixed media panels reference the digital world. “Avalanche,” a 15-panel collage of digital prints under thick resin, is a cacophony of jagged-edge shapes that push forward like all the information in the world trying to get into your email inbox.

Gloria Houng, Persuasion 1, 35x3.5x5.5", 11 pieces. wax. 2009
Gloria Houng, Persuasion 1, 35×3.5×5.5″, 11 pieces. wax. 2009

Gloria Houng’s mixed media drawings and cast wax sculptures of rabbits concern the relationship between the man-made environment and nature.  And Alexis Granwell’s visionary etchings of vortex-like shapes – built up with dots and lines evoking Morse code or Braille — call to mind cycles of nature or perhaps man-made cycles in music or dance.

Alexis Granwell, Diagram for Tunnel I, 41x29", etching on waxed mulberry paper, 2008
Alexis Granwell, Diagram for Tunnel I, 41×29″, etching on waxed mulberry paper, 2008

I enjoyed many of the pieces in this physically-diverse show and I love that the gallerist took a risk on artists she didn’t know.

“Think Global, Go Local”: Through July 18. Pentimenti Gallery, 145 N. Second St. 215.625.9990.