phile under: art review
Review: Incompletely at galleryHOMELAND
Eastside group show hits many right notes
Talent worth following? Check. Work worth looking at/thinking about? Check. If the new group show, Incompletely at galleryHOMELAND (2505 SE 11th at Division) curated by Calvin Ross Carl wasn’t an entirely cohesive curatorial effort (his statement on the HOMELAND website divides the artists into two teams, each with their own concerns), it nonetheless has plenty going for it.
Josh Smith’s "Thing in Crate (XL)" is a large O-shape that leans into it’s "crate" that resembles a mirror-lined door frame. The mirror allows the form to reflect on itself and its passage (if it is indeed threatening to move) or its containment (if not). The crate clearly can’t contain the object: it’s too narrow, and yet it insists on its crateness: witness the battens on the exterior. Like mix of raw humbleness (crate) and monument (scale), not unlike the use of a humble material like concrete to construct ambitious Modernist structures. And the mirror flashes like a gleaming chrome on a Barcelona chair. Smith’s thinking, his craft, and ambitions of scale make him an artist to watch. Recall his installation at PNCA’s Manuel Izquierdo Gallery in February, “The Righteous Foundation of Us”.
Wrapped in black plastic secured with nylon rope Calvin Ross Carl’s 10 ft tall column, "Memorial," thwarts the kind of viewing that a memorial demands. What’s more, on a low plinth is the means to reveal the memorial, a utility knife, but it too is encased in an industrial-looking plastic bag. If this were the 60s, no doubt one of us would have stepped up, answered the call, and slashed the plastic. But that was the era of Yoko Ono’s "Cut Piece," of Alan Kaprow’s Happenings. Today a different contract with the artist is the norm, and instead of cutting, I smiled.
Gary Wiseman’s series of small sculptures—chair, rocket, tower—crudely constructed of matchsticks joined by wax and painted in pink and white are entitled "Fear of Commitment, 06-08." Wiseman’s best known for his 30 tea parties, happenings with snacks. I might want to look at the means/materials of these pieces and read them as a meta-comment on the artist’s (in general) fear of committing to a piece (beginning it or finishing it). But more likely, given his previous work, we can take Wiseman at his word, that these objects are symbols for his own secret narratives concerning commitment. Wiseman will be doing a room at the upcoming Manor of Art at Milepost5.
I quibble with the "Incompletely" rubric, and especially the curator’s use of the word "pitiable" to describe the work in the show. Really? Pitiable? Read the whole statement on the galleryHOMELAND website. And I did think that part of the curator’s statement eerily echoed a conversation I had some time back with Smith about the concerns of his work—successes and failures of Modernism—which leads me to believe that Smith’s thinking was an unacknowledged influence. Nonetheless, there is strong work here, and "Incompletely" should be on your list of shows to see this month.
NOTE: this post has been revised to accurately reflect the genders of the artists. ; ) -L