The Works of Terry Welker and Paula Willmot Kraus at DVAC
By Jud Yalkut
Running through December 29, the Dayton Visual Arts Center is full of gently kinetic presences in the forms of large sculptural mobiles by Terry Welker and their beautiful complement in the fluid palladium images of flowers by Paula Willmot Kraus. This double feature show shares the DVAC space with the Annual ARTtoBUY Holiday Gift Gallery, running concurrently.
The show begins before one even enters the gallery with the shimmering, hanging construction on stainless steel and Swarovski crystal comprising the evocative fall of Sleet (2010). Hopefully not a harbinger of the season to come, this steely cold piece reaches from ceiling down to floor with glistening clear crystal beads in descending pairs.
With florid, pointed leaves of anodized aluminum descending in two long golden sprays, Welker’s Willow (2007) implies a larger living presence on their delicately hinged stainless steel armatures. Graceful blue and gold aluminum curves are like floating creatures as they balance a fan of nine stainless steel streams tipped with stacked blue Swarovski crystals.
A trained architect and city planner, Welker has a “passion for architecture, poetic space and meaningful places,” he explained. His balanced and often intricate hanging pieces seek an equilibrium that is informed by his love for the pioneering mobile and stabile work of Alexander Calder as he seeks to “extend the language of mobiles and sculpture by animating form, space and surface with time and motion,” he said.
Most Calder-like is the dark presence of Migration (2010) with its massive head counterbalancing the stream of conical flying forms both like a creature’s tail and a flock of determined birds. While there are many allusions to natural forms and phenomena, there is no literal representation in Welker’s creations. Many of his forms “come from my memory of a shape rather than a direct adaptation,” he said.
There is a wonderful spontaneity in the way Welker’s leaves and wings are fluid vector forces that challenge gravity. “I work to orchestrate ‘near misses’ and enable ‘soft collisions’ by playing with time and motion,” he said. The arcing arrays of articulated blue aluminum fingers or black directional arrows flare out around a common gravitational center, or radiate in golden radiance in a breeze of air currents in such pieces as Walking Grass (2007) and Bird of Paradise (2007).
Moonlight Grass & Ginkgoes (2007) has two levels of involvement with descending anodized aluminum blades of metallic blue under a branched stainless steel with golden heart-like leaf forms. Counter-balancing the entrance window of Sleet at the rear of the gallery is the dramatic stainless steel background spread behind the double-tiered Giacometti’s Rain, with its crystal torrents honoring the stark linear drawings and tall, gaunt urban figures of that esteemed Italian sculptor.
The leaves and natural forms in the soft palladium prints of Paula Willmot Kraus float also, but in the medium of water where they quietly assert their presence against the surface forces of their fluid bed. Starting with an early science project shared with her father that involved cataloging and photographing local wild flowers, Kraus has never stopped this cataloging of flowers. She said, she’s “studying them through the isolation that the camera’s lens and frame impose.” Kraus speaks of the “deeper resonance” when “the flowers rest on water, gaining an added dimension through the reflective quality of light and the surface tension of the water,” she said.
Two opposing Japanese Ferns (2008/2010) form their own monad of quiet energy,
and the airborne winged architecture of Maple Seeds (2008/2010) are like carved wooden propellers that navigate in fluid space, as also in the comparative scale of Big/Small Maple Seeds of the same vintage. Three curved Japanese Ferns 2 (2008-2010) describe the separated arcs of a circle, which floats on a quiet vortex of limpid fluid.
A matrix of smaller prints are individually matted, and their larger manifestations are singly highlighted further on including, a Seed Pod (2010) with two dark spherical shapes; a Single Coreopsis (2010) with a liquid aura augmented by textured photographic edges; Violets (2010) floating at edge of a porcelain cup; and a four-petalled Single Hydrangea (2010) with its reflective recurrent fluid outlines.
The quadrate petals of Dogwood (2008/2010) are in many ways reminiscent of the pointed blades of Welker’s floating sculptures. A single curving branch of Lily of the Valley (2008/2010) is an arched bracket supporting individual delicate bells, a pair of Bleeding Hearts (2008/2010) is like two floating white aquatic birds, and the two oblate floating petals of a Money Plant are pure delicate geometry well in tune with Kraus’ tendency to allow “the formal elements to dominate the frame.”
The Dayton Visual Arts center is located at 118 N. Jefferson St. in downtown Dayton. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday. (937) 224-2822.
Reach DCP visual arts critic Jud Yalkut at email@example.com