When director of the Anderson Gallery Ashley Kistler introduced Michael Jones McKean, curator of the gallery’s latest exhibit “you, your sun and shadow,” at 5:30 last evening, she literally had to speak down to a majority of the audience, the members of which sat cross-legged on the floor, due to a lack of available seating for the massive crowd that was in attendance.
The idea for the show, Kistler told listeners, was conceived more than two years ago and actively worked on for about 18 months, according to McKean, with the group meeting for at least an hour every week to give the exhibit an appropriate amount of planning.
“It was just kind of like a rap session,” McKean jests of the process. “We’d just … get together and kind of freestyle about ideas.”
The title of the show, according to McKean, has something to do with “the triangulation between the evidence that the object exists … and the most basic way you can tell an object exists (without actually seeing it) is its shadow.” Many of the works McKean selected for the exhibit deal with “something very basic about sculpture, but it never gets old … (and) never goes away.”
“The show came together in a way, for me, (that was) more eccentric than other curators might go about it … (and) I didn’t want to hide that. I’m an artist that’s curating a show – not a curator that’s curating a show. In some ways (it was) very selfish … to put together works I enjoy.”
The show consisted of the works of 10 artists ranging a spectrum of ages young and old and included those both new and seasoned.
In a little over an hour, McKean was able to touch on every piece included in the exhibit, each of which he enforces is absolutely essential to the energy and cohesion of the show – the way that the pieces were attracted to and held one another together in the space.
“This concept of valence … has to do with the way things are attractive (and) hold each other together,” McKean explained. “I wanted a show (where the pieces) held each other together in some special way … with some sort of tension.”
Choosing to work in the order that the viewer would encounter the pieces rather than their chronology, McKean began with Tony Matelli’s “Josh,” a hyper-realistic sculpture of a young man who appears to be levitating in free-fall, head first, just inside the entrance of the Anderson Gallery. The piece has to with gravity and humanity’s attempt to overcome the invisible source, as well as a sense of intangible magic.
The sculptures of Pan Lins occupied the room across the hall from Matelli’s and featured several panel-built boxes, among various other materials.
“Your brain … is constantly predicting the future,” McKean explained. “Your brain registers (the object as) a cube even though you didn’t see the other sides.”
Lins’ work plays with this quality of the brain, leaving some sides of the cubes incomplete or cut away, painting some sides in wacky geometric patterns, and adorning others with amoeba-like sculptures.
“At War With The Entropy of Nature 1,” a piece by Dario Robleto that claimed its own room on the second floor, features a cassette tape that was created from compressed dust from every bone in the human body and combined with trinitite, which is “glass produced from the first atomic test explosion from Trinity test cite, circa 1945,” according to an artist’s statement. The audio on the tape is “an original composition of military drum marches, various weapon fire and soldiers’ from battle fields of various wars made from E.V.P. recordings.”
“You, your sun and shadow” will be on display at the Anderson Gallery from now until March 11. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., with the gallery closed on Mondays. Catalogues will be available in mid February.
Photos by Amber-Lynn Taber