Recomposed Objects And Layered Narrative At Rosewood Gallery
By Jud Yalkut
Two concurrent exhibitions at the Rosewood Gallery running through Friday,
September 3 share the distinctions of transcending conventional formats and methodologies. Sculptural accretions by Jeff Bell of Durham, North Carolina fuse pre-found and readymade objects into new indefinable configurations. Sharon Harper of Springfield, Missouri provides a mélange of mixed media applications in ceramic, paper and acrylic that articulate perceptions of the
Jeff Bell’s “studio practice is focused on gathering preexisting objects, dismantling them and then creating sculptures from those elements.” Using totally everyday items, Bell references “other commonplace objects and popular culture.” There is no functional use for any of the completed assemblages, as craftsman-like as they are, and “they allude to a variety of sources and concepts but never too literally.”
Imperfections in the component recycled objects are pretty much left alone, with dents, half-torn labels, and paint discolorations remaining somehow integral to the final form. Scraped red-orange paint on a dissembled spring mechanism contains a powerful effect of tension in its attachment to a compression spring in “Rock/Slide” (2010) of steel, wood and paint mounted on a felt square. This relates to Bell’s statement that “ultimately I get at something new but also something that reflects its
“Floor Stack” (2009) is composed of routed wooden blocks, possibly extracted from old furniture elements, roughly stacked to support a battered but seemingly impregnable steel lockbox. Several smaller pieces mounted on a long board standing on two square wood pillars include: the screwed-together painted yellow curved modules of “Untitled (W.C.A.F.)” of wood, steel and aluminum; the metal-leafed open blossoming around a grey disc and blue block topped by a wooden column sporting a curved metal hook of “About” (2010); the accreted blue steel angle and rough wooden fragment forming the “Small Block 7”; and the inclined wooden plane with a tilted steel tunnel from which protrudes a double-pronged slide in “Grind” (2008).
Several of Bell’s pieces are situated on planes of pale floral background in a rare gentrified manner, with the curve-slanted golden steel top with its decimated label screwed through red felt onto routed wooden shapes in “Guild” (2008), and the scraped blue painted ridged metal positioned in two of four wooden slots in “Ride” (2009). The most installation-styled piece by Bell is the multi-roofed long bridge in “Divide” (2010) which spans two triangularly angled upholstered chairs. The results which Bell seeks by “cutting and shaping, sanding and gluing, drilling and welding” are satisfied when “the parts converge and the content is merged with the form.”
Sharon Harper looks “at the human condition through my personal experiences with love, loss, prejudice, emotional intimidation and self-acceptance” seeking to “become more open and accessible and able to communicate things that had been difficult to access.” She works with a variety of materials, producing human forms when working with clay “with an efficiency of gesture to create a narrative scenario,” and exploring layers of textures and translucent glazes for multiple meanings in painting.
“Delicate Tributary” (2008) uses acrylic and graphite on canvas to portray internal views of lungs with a thick stem with branching arms, a canvas mounted over a wall shelf on which rests a ceramic piece of cake with a brown fork stuck into it and an upright rowboat with shelf seating. Several thick-frames in black enclose various pieces combining acrylic with paper or newspaper and ink or graphite like the checker-boarded “Daily” (2010) and the lounging catfish of “Placid” (2010).
Human body parts are recurring themes in other works like the heart in the diptych “Heartfelt” (2006) with its combine of milky vellum layers and digital image, overlaid with schematic beetles and flying insects. A related panel called “Yellow Ribs” (2005) has the body parts side-by-side with swirling blue spirals, and the bizarre “Next Breath” (2008) is an amalgam of lungs, trachea and larynx with a hand supporting one of three yellow singing birds.
In ceramic, several heads are mounted on pedestals, with “His Offering” (2009) extending its tongue to the limit, the two closed-eye heads stacked together into the stoneware “One Ear” (2009), and the almost mummified head bound by hemp rope to a recumbent tall roofed house in “Home goes too” (2010).
Other pieces by Harper include: an accretion of graphite pieces on paper of hearts; an acrylic of a man in blue crisscrossed by roads and rail tracks; and a shelf of miniature houses and a boat in “Tracks” (2008). Harper, through her intense involvement in all her media, strives for work that “allows for the multiple thoughts or feeling to be synchronous and affect one another to read simultaneously… in a constantly evolving process.”
The Rosewood Gallery is located in the Rosewood Arts Centre, 2655 Olson Dr., Kettering. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call (937) 296-0294.
Reach DCP visual arts critic Jud Yalkut at firstname.lastname@example.org