Botanical Garden opens ‘Independent Visions’ sculpture show on Tuesday
By Howard Pousner
Today, the Atlanta Botanical Garden opens “Independent Visions: Sculpture in the Gardens,” an exhibit of 19 pieces by sculptors including Red Grooms, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Beverly Pepper, for a run through October. Organized with New York’s Marlborough Gallery, the show includes some works more monumental than the large-scale bronze sculptures in Henry Moore’s 2009 exhibit, including two by Kenneth Snelson that are 24 and 30 feet long. The works are theatrically lit 6-10 p.m. Thursdays during Cocktails in the Garden.
In conjunction with the sculpture show, Atlanta Fine Arts League opens an exhibit of botanical works with a meet-the-artists reception, 6-10 p.m. May 3. The works are on display in a gallery located between the Fuqua Orchid Center and the Edible Garden.
Botanical Garden hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays (until 10 p.m. Thursdays). $18.95; $12.95, ages 3-12; free, under 3. 1345 Piedmont Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-876-5859, www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org. HOWARD POUSNER
ABOUT THE “INDEPENDENT VISIONS” ARTISTS
(Biographies supplied by the Atlanta Botanical Garden)
- Magdalena Abakanowicz (Polish, b. 1930): The power of Abakanowicz’s art comes from its timeless presence, its ability to invoke deep feeling and the artist’s unique use of figurative forms as the embodiment of a visionary philosophy. Robert Hughes, writing for Time magazine, described Abakanowicz’s work as being a “dark vision of primal myth.” The two cast iron works exhibited, Kain and Abel, are imposing, headless figures that perfectly demonstrate this timelessness.
- Chakaia Booker (American, b. 1953): Hailed as the “Queen of Rubber Soul” by independent curator Lily Wei, Booker uses strips and sections of recycled tires to create her large intricate works. She participated in the 2000 Whitney Biennial, exhibiting the work It’s so Hard to Be Green, which was met with great acclaim. The sculptures Anonymity and Meeting Ends demonstrate the amazing variety in texture and form she creates with this medium and draw upon African influences such as tribal body paint, scarification, and textiles.
- Red Grooms (American, b. 1937): Tennessee-born multi-media artist Red Grooms is well-known for his witty commentaries on modern life and his affectionate yet satirical portrayals of urban culture. The two sculptures Charleston and Flamenco Dancers are part of a series in which he explored traditional dance forms. The third work, Hot Dog Vendor, embodies what Grooms has called “a sort of comic strip feel for city life” found throughout much of his work. All three sculptures are enamel on aluminum.
- Clement Meadmore (Australian, 1929-2005): The combination of Minimalism’s ascendancy in the 1960s and its uncompromising reductiveness precipitated a crisis of values for Meadmore, prompting him to move beyond Minimalism by establishing a set of variant aesthetic terms to work with and against. Meadmore’s sculptures express ideas and feelings beyond their factual presence.. The sculptures Outspread and Wall for Bojangles are classic examples of a single resolute form expressing both clarity and rigor while at the same time conveying the complexity, expressiveness and dynamics of classic modernist sculpture.
- Michele Oka Doner (American, b. 1945): Fueled by a lifelong study and appreciation of the natural world and exploration of the human figure, Oka Doner works primarily in bronze, clay and the lost wax method, creating wax forms that are later cast in bronze or silver. Oka Doner has completed many public art installations, including A Walk on the Beach at the Miami International Airport, comprised of 8,000 bronze and mother-of-pearl forms depicting sea life and the cosmos throughout a two and half mile-long long concourse. Oka Doner’s childhood relationship with the sea informs both Primal Self Portrait and Figure with Long Arms; the highly textured surface of the cast bronze simultaneously evokes coral formations and ancient relics.
- Beverly Pepper (American, b. 1972): Working from her studio in Italy, Pepper is a pioneer in sculpting monumental abstract works in cast iron, bronze, stainless steel and stone. The aura of her work has been equated with “archaic simplification” and with the sacred. This immemorial character is clear in Longo Monolith and Horizontal Twist. She says of her sculptures, “The intrinsic value of my effort in art is to be surprised and renewed by the work as it emerges – hopefully – with one’s past and future comingling in the most unexpected and lyrical forms.”
- George Rickey (American, 1907-2002): Whether in columns, clusters, lines or suspended shimmering planes, Rickey’s sculptures capture the expressive moment of the intersection of material form, light and movement in space. Rickey often declared that he aimed “to make things [that are] as contemporary as the weather report,” and gentle winds and changing weather usually are these sculptures’ greatest friends.” The three large stainless steel sculptures Four Rectangles Oblique II, Three Oblique Lines Conical Path, and Two Lines Vertical will be on view.
- Kenneth Snelson (American, b. 1927): Cantilever and Key City exemplify the fundamental element of Snelson’s work: his idea of form bound and defined by structure. One cannot help but marvel at the elegance of the work’s design when viewing a Snelson sculpture. It is simultaneously both complex and simple, and the power of this duality lends to his sculpture the intellectual tension of rational thought and the poetic imagination of an art distilled through intuition. Snelson’s work is a new perspective on structures in nature and the nature of structure.
- Manolo Valdés (Spanish, b. 1942): For one of the most original and versatile artists working today, the history of art is a major source of inspiration. He looks to old masters, such as Zurbarán, Goya, Ribera and Velázquez, as well as the modernists Picasso and Matisse for inspiration. However, he does not simply copy the work of his artistic forebears but uses their work “as a pretext” to create an entirely new aesthetic object. Yvonne II is part of a series of six monumental bronzes – all more than 12 feet high – depicting female heads, their calm facial composure and structured equilibrium.