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Spinning conceptually, Stuart Lantry’s ‘What Comes Around Goes Round and Round’ at Practice Gallery

Corey Qureshi encounters a ferris wheel in Practice Gallery whose "riders" on the wheel are metaphorical stand-ins for life's recurring problems primarily created by industrial capitalism and war. Corey calls Stuart Landry's exhibit, "a quirky showing of cleanly made sculptures and mechanized art," and continues, "The work is really a step apart from shows I've been to in recent times where sharp objects littered scenes with tragic stories." Check out the show, up at Practice to Jan. 28. Gallery hours are Saturdays and Sundays, 2-6pm and by appointment.

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A gallery with two windows, an exposed-beam ceiling and wood floor shows a sculptural ferris wheel in the middle of the room with objects (a fire extinguisher, watering can, cartoon bomb, piece of Swiss cheese, red balloon) taking a ride up, down and around.
Stuart Lantry, Gallery View of ‘What Comes Around, Goes Round and Round.’ Photo courtesy of the artist

In my latest visit to the 319 Building, I spent some time with Stuart Lantry‘s exhibition at Practice Gallery. What Comes Around Goes Round and Round is a quirky showing of cleanly made sculptures and mechanized art, a recurring cross-focus in Landry’s work previously seen at the NYC and LA Spring/Break Art Shows.

Though the walls are bordered in several individual pieces, the show hinges on the large titular centerpiece: A ten foot tall ferris wheel slowly rotating its attached and dangling sculptures. They are slightly warped from reality with their tongues sticking out. A sandwich made of sponges and soap, another sandwich dangling off of a fishing hook, a red Everlast glove with the hand crawling out of it. The smooth spinning of these various domestic joke-items is made tense by their periodic approach to the bottom. The only thing actually ends up grazing the floor are the tips of a blond wig that act as the bristles of a hand-broom.

In the artist statement, Lantry makes a point of bringing up historic moments in industrial capitalism like the World’s Fair and the erecting of the Eiffel Tower. If he’s thinking of the race of industrial capitalism, he’s inevitably thinking of war. Based on this, besides the wheel itself (welded by the artist himself), maybe the most plausible sculpture on the ferris wheel conceptually is “The Bomb met its Match”. This absurdist bomb, replete with a taped match pointed at a fuse, is the lone object with overtly ominous qualities. Its smoothness is achieved through the artist coating epoxy clay onto a foam mold of the thing.

A detailed look at a cartoonish, 3D sculptural bomb with a matchstick taped to its side that is part of a larger work of a ferris wheel onto which objects like the bomb are attached and spin slowly up and down mimicking a real ferris wheel.
Stuart Lantry, “The Bomb met its Match” epoxy clay on foam sculpture. Photo courtesy of the artist

The ferris wheel itself is hypnotic, you focus on it for a while with its artsy aspects, its occasional stuttering in the slow spinning sucks you in. The sculptures are fun, but after a few minutes just being in the gallery with the piece, you think “what the hell am I looking at?” This is a mainly positive, mildly negative thing to me, but I think the negativity is elicited by design. Again in the artist statement, Lantry references the trap of cyclical trends and their accompanying consumptions that lead to exploitation of workers in the modern capitalist landscape.

I will say, it feels like a trend that people are complaining of being tired of being forced to make art with political considerations, and while this show definitely has politics, the aesthetics sometimes match the landscape of these contemporary jokesters, which I have a love/hate relationship with. But no, this show seemingly has a serious message in its cartoonishness.

It’s really the artist’s mechanical work that sets him apart with an expansive variety of storytelling tools, like in Searching For Bliss. What Comes Around Goes Round and Round seems to be an expansion on Asleep at the Reinvented Wheel, a previous spinner from Lantry. His installations are so impressive and clean, with a roundness to the whole thing. The work is really a step apart from shows I’ve been to in recent times where sharp objects littered scenes with tragic stories. I also loved stumbling upon a Verizon Fios tv remote. Go look for yourself before January 28th!

Stuart Lantry’s “What Comes Around, Goes Round and Round” is on view at Practice Gallery to January 28, 2024. 319 N 11th St, building is wheelchair accessible.

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