I was talking to a friend earlier in the week who loves art — but can’t quite get with the program on contemporary craft and was wondering why the Arkansas Arts Center was making such a fuss over it. Which made me wonder — are there others put there who have trouble loving the work of craftsmen engaged in making fine art?
If so, they should hie themselves to the Arts Center to see “Cast, Cut, Forged and Crushed: Selections in Metal from the John and Robyn Horn Collection.” The metalwork here is, like abstract work, about form and texture but with the added excitement of dimensionality.
Take Hoss Haley’s work above, recurved planes of polished iron, both connected (by rivets) and moving in different directions: I can see this work as a drawing as well as a three-dimensional piece. Mitchell Lonas’ engraved plate of steel from his nest series is drawing, whirling scratches on steel that recall the miraculous thing birds do with grass. Gordon Chandler flattens 3D space, smushing and cutting an oil drum into the shape of a kimono — hanging against the wall just as painting, the genre that pleases my friend, would do.
Elizabeth Brim’s “Pillow” is metal cut and bent to appear to be full of air, textured with square and rectangular indentations reminiscent of an arts and crafts design. Marc Maiorana plays with reality with a tall pedestal, a splinter of which has broken away from the corner and become round. John Rais “Sunlight Sifter” is a flattened oval basket of pierced metal that he’s made to look as if it was created for another purpose and appropriated for his sculpture. These works are as much about beautiful lines as any drawing, as sleek as Japanese brushstrokes.
The show, sponsored by Marion Fulk and Jeff Rosenzweig and the Munro Foundation, will be in the Jeannette Rockefeller Gallery through Jan. 15.