Friday, April 16, 2010

“Form, Figure and Function…”(and Furniture) at the CMA

Yesterday I bought a new snazzy notebook with lines so as to make better notes for writing about shows. Nice try, but I still write all callywupass up and down and sideways on the pages with or without lines. At least the cover is better than the ratty sketchbook I was using before so as to remain unobtrusive. I did not do that well either (remain unobtrusive), must have been the zebra striped heels which happened to match one of my favorite ceramic pieces in the show, “Z” by Jack Moulthrop. His black and white patterned spherical vessel is reminiscent of some much larger ceramic sculptural works I recently saw by Jun Kaneko at the Morikami Museum in Florida. I am not much of a ceramics person so this part will be short.

I liked the back part of the galleries better than the front. As you may have garnered by now, I am not into artists statements that shovel a lot of BS and I found several of those. Maybe it is my adult version of ADHD, but too many words in big run on sentences referencing esoteric influences…..sorry, but you lose me. It is a teapot. It is a nice teapot. It has glaze like millifleur tapestries and here is how that happened….. The tea cup comic book strip is great but I would have liked some way to see the backsides too. The installation lacked a Paul Harvey moment because I could not see the “rest of the story”. It is a wonderful piece for children, but it will frustrate them. Speaking of kids, I enjoyed the interaction of the “Degrees of Separation” by Jim Bowling and could picture it being featured in school gallery talks until my husband pointed out the statement. Well okay then, moving on kids…….

I guess I should explain my issue with ceramics. My studio experience with them never went beyond an intro class because I find them so time consuming. And with that, I can’t control the outcome because of how glazes work. When an artist can produce a wonderful result strictly by trust or skill, I’m impressed. William Brouillards’s Majolica style platter is one such piece, more painterly than pottery and one to which I can relate. My other problem with ceramics is the firing experience. Every darn time I put my students’ work into the kiln to fire overnight, some yahoo had an air pocket locked inside (usually by intent) and it would explode, shattering all the pieces on the same shelf. Then I would have to comfort some poor kid who had lost their pot after hours and hours of work because of a bubble bully. Therefore, to avoid tears, I avoided making it to the end of my curriculum each year….were the ceramics unit was conveniently placed by me. I did find one other thing that bothered me in the ceramics portion of this show….it was the dust on Eva Kwong’s Octopus Leg Vase (which did make me feel more at home however). I took a lot of notes in these main galleries and my overall view is that it is a well done representation of fine art ceramics.

Furniture is more my thing. I grew up in a house full of finely carved antiques and have a cousin who is sought after for his furniture pieces. The Smithsonian uses him and his private client waiting list is 5 years long. Kurt sports the three foot blonde pony tail, lives in a log cabin he built piece by piece and grows a lot of his own food. Only 2 hours south of where we live, one would never know he is out there in the woods even though his work graces many famous places. But his work is not here and two local craftsman/artists pieces are so let’s talk about them instead. First big bummer was not to find the Red Bookshelves in Kevin Anderson’s gallery. It is in the program so where is the work? The second was to not find the title for the Mahogany Cabinet. Why? It was in the North Canton show in 2008 and entitled “Bushy Mahogany Cabinet”. The construction and design obviously represents female anatomy so why the lack of a title on the card? Please don’t tell me the CMA is getting gun-shy on sexuality. The same occurs with the NOLA piece which was in the Blind Date show and has to do with Hurricane Katrina. Why no statement or reference to that? I guess that makes it a Mystery Date now. I was glad to find a bio on him by the door however so as to put into context the pieces in the show with his background in industrial design.

The next gallery had the work of John Strauss. I was doing really great in the unobtrusive department until he recognized my husband. (So much for stealth). We ended chatting about one of my favorite groupings, the Vide Poche which I learned is French for “contents of your pockets”. They are small three legged tables with one drawer for holding one’s stuff each night when emptying out pockets. I loved the red one of dyed wood even though I would still lose my keys every time if had one in my house. The gallery was beautifully done with wainscoting and two toned taupe walls giving his pieces a well deserved regal air. The craftsmanship is impeccable and the surfaces and textures fascinating. The turquoise dye on the screen piece is immaculate, not a brush stroke or tonal shift anyplace I could see. I had never heard of zebrawood before and find it striking (like my shoes). The inclusion of a sample chair, like a dress maker’s pattern, next to its finished companion is a smart way to make the sculptural aspect more relevant and tone down the functional. I may have to drag Kurt out of his hermit hole to come see these two galleries.

On my way out, I passed the ceramic pieces by Scott Dooley referencing oil cans and muffler parts and immediately thought of Dr. Seuss. This show is on view until July 25 which overlaps the first National Juried show by the Canton Museum although it is a tent show like Boston Mills and not a gallery show and held over a two day period May 22 and 23. Kevin and John will have more work on display at that time as part of the show.

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