CURRENT EXHIBIT

RANDALL REID & STEVE MURPHY

HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE

December 2, 2005 – January 14, 2006
Opening Reception: Friday, Dec. 2, 5-9pm

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El Camino Olvedado
RANDALL REID
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Never A Dull Moment
STEVE MURPHY

SEE RANDALL REID'S GALLERY
SEE STEVE MURPHY'S GALLERY

In art as in life, there is a certain sweep and texture to every experience. Yet, an occasional flash of detail will often serve to illuminate the larger picture, rather than to interrupt its scope. It does so by distilling the overall impression into a sharper focus, much as a solo passage catalyzes a symphony.

RANDALL REID works with this idea in his minimal constructions in metal, wood, encaustic, and other materials. At first glance, one sees a subtly worked facade, and then is immediately drawn to a tiny but significant feature within the frame. Reid creates a pristine but subtly rich image and embeds within it a vignette that takes the viewer beyond the first impression in several respects. First, it breaks the surface like a pebble on water, setting up ripples and inferences and associations. Second, it balances the composition like a plumb bob within a building framework, providing the eye with a reference point. Lastly, it functions as a window onto the hidden life of the image. One cannot walk by without noticing the detail and wondering what is going on in there, and soon one is taken into the piece and absorbed by it. Over the past few years, many people who have seen Reid’s work have lingered with it, spending time in quiet contemplation as if it were a celestial mirror or a moment of dreamlike clarity within their waking comprehension.

Under Reid’s hands, steel sometimes looks like wood, which in turn sometimes looks like steel. The ambiguity goes back and forth as the viewer tries to discern what lies beneath the surface. This relationship between natural materials is an important part of Reid’s work. It is, in a sense, a collaboration with nature. The artist constantly watches for interesting bits of material in his everyday surrounds, and also goes to scrap yards and antique stores in search of pieces from which he can extract elements or shapes to put into a new environment of his own making. This juxtaposition results in an alchemy that produces a work of art.

He is particularly delighted when he finds, for instance, a burned and rusted metal fragment unearthed by a tractor, and is able to divide it along internal fault lines so that the mineral spirit shines through. “When I’m creating these pieces,” says Reid, “I feel like I’m in touch with a universal consciousness out there. I’m putting certain factors together in a new form. Some elements have been discarded along a path unknown to me. I’m by chance finding them, and they’re coming back to life.”

Reid’s surfaces can evoke the ancient world, looking by turns Spanish, Italian, or even Egyptian in the case of several pieces with golden areas. Occasionally an almost fossilized image appears as the surface is rubbed away. Although he deliberately works the pieces so that they appear very old, they have a modern, vital feel, as though they had aged like fine wine. “I think about the idea of preservation,” says Reid, “and about wanting or not wanting to age. After all, nothing ever stays the same.”

In STEVE MURPHY’S recent work, circles give definition to perception. Whether our thoughts spiral out toward the unknown or spiral inward as they gather and store information, they gravitate toward the closure that provides organization and comprehension. Steve Murphy’s work, in both two and three dimensions, contains a host of ideas in as many forms, yet there is about each piece a wholeness that derives from realization that has come full circle.

Murphy’s vision began in the 1970s when he created a series of paintings with a texture that he recaptured in three dimensions using barbed wire when he turned to sculpture in 1989. He was struck by the textural qualities the barbed wire displays when wrapped into a cylindrical form. As the series was developed and refined into various spindle forms, its straightforward material served to maintain the immediacy of that first piece.

"I have since become interested in interpreting these forms in other materials," says the artist. "The change in materials has allowed me to use geometry that is not so severely symmetrical."

Those variations include a number of forms that only barely suggest the meditative wrapping of earlier years. In a large, freestanding piece, for example, a spindle may pierce a disc that is too thin to be wrapped, yet it remains a spindle in the sense that it forms an axis within a circle. The inference is that other circles might be formed if the piece were rolled around the floor. This implication of movement in the static object is an important issue in Murphy’s work. The eye traces the imaginary circle on the floor and the trajectory of the spindle through the center of the piece.

A convex wooden form with only a hint of wrapped texture may rest solidly on the ground, yet taper upward and gain speed until its silvery top cuts the air above it like a laser. It is this almost hallucinatory thick-and-thin aspect of the sculpture, this play between gravity and weightlessness, mass and detail, strength and delicacy that gives it an immutable presence. As in a dream, irrational logic solidifies into a clear structure and becomes invested with the authority of an icon.

Murphy has continued to re-investigate his two-dimensional roots with a series of shaped drawings. In a catalogue from a pump manufacturer, he discovered some graphs called "pump curves" that define how certain equipment responds under differing conditions. Paraphrasing these lines as art, he gives them new life whose meaning depends on what others see. "I have had viewers refer to the drawings as interpretations of geological formations, plowed fields, butterfly wings, and other things," he says. "I really like this type of multiple reference in my work. It is a more poetic approach that leaves people to find their own connection to the pieces."


Previous Exhibitions

 RICHARD THOMPSON - Mindful Wading: October 22 – November 26, 2005

 JOHN HOLT SMITH - Work by Tarrant County artists: June 25 – August 6, 2005

 JOURNEYS: PUBLIC & PRIVATE - SEQUENCE: THE LIGHT WE REMEMBER TO SEE, FOR BILL: September 10 - October 15, 2005

 KEVIN TOLMAN - PAINTINGS + DRAWINGS: May 14 – June 18, 2005

 SEVAN MELIKYAN - ‘AFTER’ SERIES II: April 2 – May 2, 2005

 A FOCUSED VISION - Group Exhibition: February 11 – March 26, 2005

 SCOTTIE PARSONS - NEW PAINTINGS: December 3, 2004 – January 8, 2005

 J.T. GRANT - BÊTE NOIRE: September 18 – October 23, 2004

 SURFACE - Group Exhibition: June 19 – September 4, 2004

 JUDY YOUNGBLOOD - NEW WORK: May 1 - June 5, 2004



William Campbell Contemporary Art
4935 Byers Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76107
PHONE: (817) 737-9566, FAX: (817) 737-5466
Gallery One Frames - (817) 737-9571
E-Mail: wcca@flash.net

William Campbell Contemporary Art
10:00 am – 5:00 pm Tuesday – Friday
11:00 am – 4:00 pm Saturday
and by appointment
 
Gallery One Frames
10:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Friday
11:00 am – 4:00 pm Saturday


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