Still Museum's Dean Sobel to Fête Allied Works Architecture with New Exhibit

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Clyfford Still Museum director Dean Sobel has a vested interest in Brad Cloepfil's Portland- and New York-based Allied Works Architecture: The firm designed the museum's building, which utilizes natural light in the galleries in groundbreaking ways. But the Still Museum shows just a slice of how AWA as a team creates stunningly modern concepts.

Sobel, a contemporary-art expert with an eye for what's lasting, will give the firm its due early next year with Case Work: Sculptures and Drawings by Allied Works Architecture, a major touring exhibition that will begin its run at the Denver Art Museum in January before setting off for Portland and other international destinations. Mounted by the Clyfford Still Museum and the Portland Art Museum in association with Allied Works Architecture, Case Works highlights seventeen architectural sculptures and forty drawings, which will be displayed within a custom-built armature, or series of  “cases.”

Case Work highlights a little-known part of Allied Works’ practice — namely, the handmade works of art developed to articulate, inform and accelerate the firm’s creative vision,” Sobel says of the exhibit. “These sculptures and drawings are a pivotal part of the investigative process that distinguishes the firm’s approach. At the same time, these works are complete artworks in their own right, hidden gems that crystallize and convey core ideas or conceptual intentions.”

The works on display will be broken down into categories, including:

Embedded Space: Carved from a single reclaimed beam of Douglas fir, the work represents the desire for a singular, unified experience across structure, landscape and earth within the building that would become the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver.

Resonant Vessels: Comprised of concrete cast around salvaged pieces of different brass musical instruments, the smooth, geometric forms speak to the sheer variety of musical expression while simultaneously making reference to modernist sculpture. Resonant Vessels was created as part of the conceptual design phase for the National Music Centre of Canada.

Quilted Landscape: Wooden bits, porcelain and sawed colored pencil are collaged to create a quilt-like effect, inspired by aerial views of the Wisconsin farmland and created for the firm’s Wisconsin Art Preserve proposal.

Boundless Figure: This assemblage of acrylic, cast resin, polished brass and charred pine evokes a transparent form extending into a landscape, only to be forced to turn back in on itself, held within the earth’s black embrace. Boundless Figure was created during the conceptual-design phase for the Dutchess County Estate Main House in New York State.

Braided Space: An interlocking brass structure imbued with movement, snaking across the landscape and binding the form to its site. Braided Space was created during the preliminary process of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec design competition.  

Case Work opens at the DAM on January 24, 2016, and runs through April 17. Visit the Denver Art Museum online for more information, and watch westword.com for additional details. 

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