“Shape to Shape”
sculpture by Stuart Fink
Brazee Street studios, 4426 Brazee Street in Oakley
Reception: September 14, 6-9 p.m. Showing through September 21
I was a bit confused at first glimpse of Stuart Fink’s current show at Gallery One One at Brazee Street studios. His name is so well known in the tri-state area that the very obvious humor I felt in his wood sculptures had to be a figment of my imagination. But when a teenaged young man came in, circled both rooms of the gallery, left and brought back his family, I became curious enough to remain and watch their reaction.
They discussed the pieces quite seriously for a few minutes and were about to leave, when Mom stopped and smiled as she inspected the tall piece near the door. That broke the ice and soon the whole family was doing over the exhibit with an eye to the charm that hides in the many cavities, waves and wheels that go nowhere in these light-hearted inventions.
They do, indeed, appear to have some grave mechanical duty to perform, in spite of the decorative features lurking about in useless spaces. Wheels and gears are physically unable to move, and if they did, they would have no purpose to perform. None of these inventions, displayed on pillars, are taller than about 2 1/2 feet, with bases usually within a 12 inch square. Definitely portable. While the room in which they are displayed is rather small for a gallery, somehow these airy sculptures add dimension even as they occupy space.
Unfinished wood, with its creamy tones, helps this illusion along, but more than color, they speak of air, exude freshness, and glorify space in the small squares and squiggles that embrace these forms. Once in a while a letter will become apparent. Open rectangles (picture frames?) fly out from the main stem, circles are piled onto more circles indicating a strength which denies itself as the object grows. Strangely enough, all of this fantasy ends in reasonable terms, as if Fink has known all along, (even as we wonder ) exactly what the final parameters would be.
All of the sculptures, these and four bronze pieces in the second room, are placed for maximum accessibility. Circling three dimensional art is a joy I never fully appreciated until I began writing. While trying to wring the very last drop of visible interest from an object, hoping not to miss some tiny, but important surprise, like Fink’s welcome little pieces of wood drilled with polka dots of light, I realized the big difference between sculpture and two dimensional work. The former offers a whole new piece of art with each slightest change of viewpoint.
Fink began his art career as a painter, turning to sculpture later. On the walls surrounding the more solid images are some completely charming nods to that medium of his early years.The room displaying the light wood structures also shows a series of works on paper titled “Headed Somewhere” numbered I, II, and III. Large heads wearing hair, no hair, crowns, hats and expressions of pure apprehension are being sped along in way-too- small imaginative vehicles to an unknown destination. There’s more than a hint of commentary on our lives in them. They are rendered with panache and confidence in liquid acrylics, appearing to be applied from the top openings on the containers, a spontaneity which only increases a recognition of the artist’s control.
Two series of works on paper were shown in the room with the bronzes; “Walls of Marx” and “Floaters”. “Walls” are a crayon-colored group of no bigger than 10 inch square paintings, again in liquid acrylics, painted clear to their torn edges with a geometric, Fink-generated, code of symbols. Small, and worked into grand design , their claim to artistic magic relies on Fink’s sophisticated use of overlaying paint and utilizing the white of the paper. In some of these, the dots which are such a small, yet necessary, inclusion in the sculptures appear in corners, once again waving that wand of of surprise. Much about these pieces seems Miro-esque in their isolated parts, unrelatedly floating about in oceans of color.
“Floaters” did just that appearing to float gently above the paper in soft colored pencil tones. After all the activity of “Walls”, they appeared like a welcome moment of silence after a party. Again stairs, squares, and a regalia of traditional geometric space cavort, now without the frenzied perpetual motion of “Walls”, and acting as the perfect foil for all that rumpus. Although, I must admit, I kept returning to “Walls”.
Fink’s statement declares, “Stylistically, the Cubism school of art and the work of Walter Quirt, who I studied under at the University of Minnesota, has guided and inspired my inventiveness.” Upon Googling Walter Quirt’s images, I discovered a commitment to quality, a curiosity for possibilities, and an open minded exploration of the art world around him. Not surprisingly, qualities which permeate every part of this exhibit.