May 17th, 2012  |  Published in May 2012, On View  |  1 Comment

Trish Weeks, "Minerals and Pigments#4"

Layered Abstractions at AEC
April 13 thru May 11
Abstract they are; some more than others. Yet sculpture by Robert Pulley,  palette knife paintings by Trish Weeks, and painted comments on humanity by Paige Williams, were  pulled together by the common, if tenuous, thread of nature.
Robert Pulley has spent decades in sculpture.  With a true artist’s love of experiment, he has created from just about everything with an innate  solid feel for the earth.  Huge forms stand like misplaced monoliths from some prehistoric temple alone in the center of the new and beautiful AEC space at 27 West 7th Street, Covington, looking somewhat lost without the raging elements which obviously played into their making. My first view of Pulley’s work was some years ago in a charming garden.  It belonged there, and yet seemed some wondrous gift of the gods landed by chance.  While the garden, itself, was a praiseworthy design, the sculpture, with its raw force, raised it more than a few levels beyond that.
The three largest pieces, one at 10 feet tall,  were fashioned of clay, sprayed, patterned, smoothed and sloped into an event which could make rain, snow and light become ever changing parts of them.  Some portions, deliberately roughed, abutted slippery shields of carefully smoothed clay, creating an infinity of new surfaces as one moved around the sculptures.  “The Green Shoulder” stood separately in an alcove by the street window, attaining somehow an earthy dignity.  It, too, echoed the elements, but with a distinct Japanese aesthetic.    Rounded at the top, and casually patterned lower on the form, a severe cut away section of the curve came as a shock;  the kind of shock that gestures into art.
Lined up against a wall stood four sculptures of a surprisingly accessible countenance.  After all the “sturm” and “ drang” of center pieces, these table top pieces looked like strangers at the storm.  By combining brass and rock into careful fantasies, each taking its cue from the natural rock,  Pulley brought forth stunning forms of rawness and reflections to steal the show.  Each exuded the same strength and energy as the larger sculptures, but with a bit of contrasting refinement emerging in ways least expected.  Their positioning forbade circling them, (my only criticism), but sideways glances hinted nicely at what was not obviously visible.
My favorite of these smaller  pieces, pictured here at the far left, is a bronze and quartz piece which winds its way upward smoothly on the side facing the room, only to reveal a thoroughly uncivilized jagged exterior on the other.  This sort of contradictory imagery provided the perfect frisson in each piece of this quartet of shapes.
Circling the sculptures, were Trish Weeks’ landscapes.  Their slashing color and cooly designed tonal perspective separated them completely from the quiet dignity of Pulley’s work.   Lots of red and yellow vegetation,  purplish distance and clear blue skies rushed along their diagonals with carefree emotion in practical sizes: no people and no buildings to intrude on pastoral contemplation.  They were the perfect complement for the ponderous figures they surrounded, and vice versa.
Paige Williams’ art was intimately contained in a small hallway, her quirky pieces ruling the space like the throne room of a palace.  Williams is always intense.  Her art doesn’t need to stand on a chair and scream.  It quietly speaks whatever script she has written for it, and while we may not know the words, we hear the message.  These striped acrylic paintings on  panel are never exactly what the eye expects.  Strips of color slip from their appointed meeting places occasionally, and then slowly right themselves.  In a special grouping of 6, “Cape Breton 1 – 6” ,  the ocean flows in  identical horizontal formats, via colored ink on paper, whose variations are the reflections of light on water.  One in the grouping of horizontal strokes was invaded by the tiniest piece of cadmium red in the upper left corner, the perfect unexpected  intrusion of individualism which always lurks in Williams’ work.
Artists’ statements are not usually my favorite reading matter. However, Williams’ statement so perfectly encompasses the philosophy of these seemingly  simple inventions that a few snips deserve a place here: her “work explores the space between us: the physical and psychological disparities that exist in relationships along with the joys and tensions that arise as a result of navigating these intervals. The works are about discovery, the struggle to relinquish control and reveling in the absurd and unexpected.”
A great deal of the exhibit’s success is easily attributed the the AEC space.  A true surprise of good gallery design and professional management that promises a future of  exciting art.  Applause, applause.
–Fran Watson


  1. Cynthia Kukla says:

    May 17th, 2012at 2:42 pm(#)

    It is great to see art displayed in downtown Covington and I am sure this review will bring many viewers, buyers even.