By Show and Tell
By Bree Davies
By Bree Davies
By Cory Casciato
By Emilie Johnson
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davis
By Josiah M. Hesse
The last of the three artists in Story is James Surls, who became internationally famous in the 1980s for his carved-wood sculptures that suggest animal and plant shapes, but only vaguely and not in a literal way. Though Surls spent most of his career in Texas, he moved to Carbondale, near Aspen, a decade ago. Since then, he's become part of the Colorado scene, and his readily identifiable work has been exhibited in Denver and Boulder over the past several years.
There are three important Surls sculptures here, the most impressive of which is "Seven and Seven Flower," in painted steel and carved pine. Suspended from the ceiling on a central pivot point so that it looks as though it's floating in mid-air, the sculpture includes seven conventionalized flowers on metal stems, each of which has seven carved-wood petals. These radiating petals are made from pine logs that are pointed at the ends. Though "Seven and Seven Flower" is airy, with the piece enclosing lots of empty space between its solid elements, it still dominates the large room where it has been installed. Aesthetically, it's pure Surls, and therefore absolutely stunning.
I'd describe the huge drawing "I Never Knew" in the same way. Using a motif of pointed lines — just like the sculptures — Surls has drawn faces and arms that appear to be emerging from a swirling vortex of scribbled lines at the bottom center of the enormous sheet of paper. Hanging opposite the powerful and gigantic "Seven and Seven Flower," it holds its own.
I can definitely see why Garner and Cullen decided to put Hooper, Green and Surls together. However, as I went through the show, and as I recalled it later, it felt more like a trio of separate solos than a tight theme show. Luckily, the CVA has the capacity to allow each artist to stand alone in individual and clearly delineated spaces — and Garner and Cullen have the skills to install the exhibit intelligently. Seen in this way, as three stand-alone chapters, so to speak, Story is definitely a success.