The final player in Alchemy is Marta Thoma, who is also from California. More than the other two artists, Thoma not only embraces soft recycling, but she's also inspired and motivated by the earth-friendly idea. In her artist's statement, she traces the origin of her idea of creating art through recycling: In 1991, she was in a program at the South San Francisco dump, where she was allowed to go through old rubbish looking for found materials to use in her work. After a rainfall, she noticed how a pile of discarded bottles "sparkled in the sunlight like diamonds."

The Thoma pieces in Alchemy are suspension sculptures made of steel rods that the artist has adorned with colored bottles. The rods are in a form that creates a three-dimensional scribble, mostly horizontally oriented. The bases of the bottles have been drilled so that the rods can pierce them and emerge from the bottles' necks. The bottles are strung along the rods and add an incredible sense of lightness, because the rods — the hard line against the space — disappear behind the sparkle.

"Meteor," which hangs high in Havu's double-height front space, contains a meandering line that loops into itself, terminating in whiplash curves. Toward the interior of the piece, Thoma has mounted clear bottles, and their icy appeal seems perfect given the subject matter. In other suspension works, including "Star Burst" and the over-the-top "Earth Tear in Blue," Thoma uses transparent blue and even purple bottles. There's an incredible visual richness to these pieces, as well as a sense of luxury, which is unexpected considering the humble material of the recycled bottles. This luxuriousness lends them the character of oversized pieces of jewelry, so Thoma's revelation at the dump, when she likened the bottles to gems, was definitely right on point.

"Circular Construct," by Stan Meyer, woven tar paper and metallic pigments.
"Circular Construct," by Stan Meyer, woven tar paper and metallic pigments.
"String of Pearls," by Ann Weber, cardboard, staples, shellac and steel.
"String of Pearls," by Ann Weber, cardboard, staples, shellac and steel.

Details

Through January 3, William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, www.williamhavugallery.com.

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"Alchemy" is a word that's often used for exhibition titles, and typically it has little or no relevance to the art on display. But the imaginary process by which alchemists were supposed to change lead into gold is not meaningless when it comes to this particular show, because Meyer, Weber and Thoma have done just that, at least from an aesthetic standpoint.

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