The early fall weather made for a pristine First Thursday Pioneer Square Art Walk on October 2—an evening of art, conversation and pleasant strolls. A variety of mediums from regional artists were presented this month, but what caught my eye were the sculptural pieces presented at Abmeyer + Wood, Foster/White and Gallery IMA.
Ross Richmond at Abmeyer + Wood
Ross Richmond’s Muse took center stage this month, presenting solitary, subtle figures that call one to a sense of sobriety. The emotionally-charged glass works render meaningful gestures in a new way, with a distinct emphasis on the hands and face that captures the human condition. The forms of this collection are consistently pressed into an oblong, vertical shape, but Richmond, a glass blower from William Morris’ team, works from a range of inspirations and varies the color and theme accordingly. His patterned surfaces are inspired by Klimt and created by layering hot glass.
Each piece exhibits the quiet serenity of a person engrossed in meditation or prayer, and the variation of techniques imbues each figure with a distinct personality. In Girl with Gold Earring, the hands take a dominant position in the composition. The figure gazes upwards with closed eyes and her tear-drop shaped hands pressed around her torso. The piece is decorated with an iridescent rainfall of color, paired with a burgundy cloak—all contributing to a sense of solemnity. The repeating figures filled with visual intrigue, fragile yet bold, make Muse a beautiful exhibition of the human condition.
George Rodriguez at Foster / White
The ceramic works by artist George Rodriguez in Here After take a more eerie approach to the solitary figure. An innovative ceramic artist, Rodriguez brings his heritage to life through sculptures inspired by Día de los Muertos, including “statuary, roadside memorials, and temple relics.” As a San Diego native, I am reminded of the sugar skulls of my childhood—emblems of a celebration for one’s ancestors.
Santita Muerte and Reaper, both skulls, speak to Rodriguez’s characteristic style: “a fusion of Latin American culture twisted with his own modern wit and soul.” The gaping eyes of Santita Muerte express a melancholy reverence, while the emotional eyes of Reaper soften the sharp edge of its referent. “Even in the gravity of the subject,” Rodriguez states, “I want my work to be approachable and joyful. If the viewer chooses to explore with a little more intent, the sculpture will start to reveal a deeper story.”
Paul Metivier at Gallery IMA
In Paul Metivier’s Architectural Series of Likenesses, the artist explores the relationship and similarities between daguerreotype portraits, medieval architectural embellishments and his own artistic exploration. The dominating facades of vaulted medieval structures are encrusted with hunkypunks and gargoyles, and these grotesque embellishments are the focal point of Metivier’s exhibition.
The stoic, haunting faces presented in Portrait of a Waterman and Portrait of a Neophyte have a rustic and ancient quality true to their predecessors. These works are fittingly created using terra-cotta paper clay, terra sigillata, 19th Century nails and stains.
Metivier states, “I deliberately carve the clay to divert its origins as a material, with the intent to give each piece its own tale of creation and demise.” While his daguerreotype portraits are beautifully envisioned, the sculptural piece Offspring installed at Gallery IMA is perhaps my favorite. A swarm of bird heads emerging from the wall seem almost animated, cascading horizontally. Though pieces are available for individual sale, the work is most structurally resonant as one.