Treasured trash

“Lost and Found” is rich with experience
By IAN PAIGE  |  October 18, 2006

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BATTLEAXE: Altered book + wood + black velvet, by Brendan Ferri, 2006.
“Lost and Found,” now showing at the June Fitzpatrick Gallery at the Maine College of Art in Portland, is worth stumbling upon. The twelve artists featured celebrate the artistic practice of assembly of found objects and do so in twelve unique ways. The entire exhibit manifests as a reflection on the adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Exploring the different methods of adding richness to the potential of disparate objects is at the core of the show’s success.

One manner of assemblage starts with an inspirational object and leads to a highly intentional and planned piece. In Diane Cherbuliez’s “The Road to Good Intentions” this object is a used match. With some careful mathematical computation, the artist constructs two sides of a bridge with hundreds of the wooden matchsticks. Carefully proportioned and positioned mirrors reflect the structure so the sides appear to form a perfect hexagon. Apparently, the road to good intentions leads back on itself in an ouroboric loop and, to reference another old adage, does not need to be entirely burned.

Hexagons appear again in one of James Fangbone’s pieces. His bizarre shrine hosts a collage element of a honeycomb nestled among a cacophony of malevolent clowns and patriotic paraphernalia. One large cowboy clown wears a lone star hat and has a noose around his neck, perhaps to take a stab at a certain Texan in charge of the hive. The political satire is overt, but balanced by the irreverent insanity that the artist has a knack for producing.

Edward Mackenzie approaches assemblage by allowing the compositional elements to dictate their arrangement in the piece “Pianoworks.” Through his perceptive eye, the various small components of a grand piano are carefully placed in the curio-cubicles of an old lead-type box. Wooden objects seem to pour out of each nook while some vestiges of lead letters form the word “piano” in various typefaces. It seems as though the viewer is seeing a visual representation of a thought, like a Platonic piano is imagining itself and the parts are about to come alive and assemble themselves.

By contrast, Nick Fitzpatrick also utilizes a piano but through a reductive approach that sees the object for what it is. The inherent beauty of a dilapidated keyboard is removed from its context so that the eye moves through newly observable physical relationships. Each ivory key becomes a cosmos unto itself in different stages of decay.

Ernest Paterno strikes a balance between juxtaposition and inherent object value. A giant axle and gear become a distinct pedestal that supports a wooden shoe mold. The two basic elements are gently accented by hand-blown glass. Crystal-clear tendrils cradle the mold from the base and a copper-plated glass toe is inserted into the wood. The simple elements sing together when observed as a whole.

Brendan Ferri creates objects of considerable weight out of steel and wood. “Battleaxe” features an open-face book with its pages chipped away and then smoothed out to resemble a double-edged axe blade. The words are abstracted, partly revealed in the fanning of pages but now more evident as a pattern of information, an Akashic Record leading to the present moment manifested in the spine. Clearly visible is the title, “Being,” which insinuates a dialectical approach from the double-blade emerging from the stable single source of the axe handle.

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  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Rube Goldberg, Maine College of Art, June Fitzpatrick,  More more >
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