From one in the afternoon until midnight last Saturday, the City of Hamilton’s 2011 SUPERCRAWL ran the length of James Street North (roughly seven city blocks) from Murray Street in the north down to the main festival area at York and Wilson Streets. Works by approximately fifteen visual artists and collectives were well integrated and evenly spaced along the route.
Shayne Dark’s Day-Glo painted driftwood sculpture Wildfire was set defiantly in the centre of the roadway as an optically enticing work to experience. These organic forms are mesmerizing primarily because the complete surface of textured driftwood is perfectly coated with neon red paint. Not a single crevice or nook is missed. The all-over effect provides the sculpture with a powerful contrast: the sprawling, natural forms of the driftwood meld as if cast from a single colour. Although unified by its hue, it is startling to realize the fire-like form is made of approximately twenty separate pieces in balance. The total form satisfies its title as it phenomenally resembles a raging campfire captured in a 3-D stasis.
Dark’s second work Critical Mass #4 was a cool counterpoint. This deep blue structure portrays clear anthropomorphic features: three legs and two arms stretch backwards from a lunging, alien-like head and torso. The perception of motion is an added bonus. It is fascinating how the artist salvages natural debris and installs sentient life into these spider-like forms simply with the precise addition of pure hue and composed structure.
Gareth Lichty featured three sculptures made of recognizable hardware and industrial materials. Two of the works, Enclosure and Plat and Parcel, were showcased at b contemporary gallery. The first evidences Lichty’s signature weaving skills at their best. A regular garden hose is strung together to form a turf-life floor sculpture or plastic, indoor/outdoor carpet. It can definitely be viewed as a whimsical depiction of a lawn. Sections of bent hose grow from the central area to represent artificial blades of grass – ironically, in no need of watering. Plat and Parcel consists of four orange cube sculptures – again resting in proximity to each other on the floor. The orange fence cubes are varying sizes all made from trimmed and stacked construction fencing. The largest cube has been somewhat hollowed out with a two-foot square space removed from its centre. It appears the second sculpture was created using the counter-form material from the largest cube. Similarly, the third smaller cube also seems to be made of the carved-out, interior material from the second sculpture. The origin of the final forth cube is less obvious. While it is equally made of stacked fencing, it is just slightly smaller than the third cube. These works add a do-it-yourself lowbrow quality while still calling to mind Judd’s early Primary Structure experiments where cubic forms were painted orange so as not to detract from their three-dimensional aesthetic.
In an empty lot near the main York Wilson Stage, Lichty also installed Saule. The work is a web of clear plastic tubing formed as an ad hoc canopy and stretched across the top of a minimal gazebo. This configuration works well for viewing the work from below and peering through the central oculus. The visual weight of the form, fluctuating between burden and lightness, can be appreciated at numerous advantageous angles. The impetus to simply read “spider web” is frustrated by the sterile, plastic building material.
While Chris Shepherd is primarily known for his architectural-inspired photography, his foray into performance art with The Clock was ambitious. First, Shepherd marked the road with twelve stencils – wooden skid-outlined marks drawn using fluorescent, industrial spray paint. The template from overhead was the format of a clock with skid stations positioned at every “hour”. Over twelve hours, Shepherd and his assistant moved seventy-five cinder blocks from one skid to another skid stationed at the next hour spot. While all seventy-five blocks made a perfect cube on the skid when complete, it is unclear why sixty blocks weren’t employed as a more direct link to minutes and the overall concept of time. Shepherd was authentically dressed in construction garb and fused with his environment subtly offering a poignant moment of blue-collar surrealism.
Hometown art heroes, TH&B collective (featuring Simon Frank, Dave Hind, Ivan Jurakic, and Tor Lukasik-Foss) created a hard-to-find-yet-worth-the-search beehive sculpture made of hand-gathered burrs. The realistic hive wrapped itself around a lamppost with an affixed Parking sign. It also had an internal speaker emitting a high-frequency drone common to sound-based insect repellant devices. This sculptural force of nature could inspire retaliation against urban sprawl and the sterilization of unaltered environments.
Another cleverly concealed yet in your face project was the knitted façade of a local bar called The Brain created by The Beehive Craft Collective. This newly knitted skin impressively matched the colours of the original brickwork and signage. Even a set of flowerpots were created using yarn and entertainingly perched at the second story window ledges. The architectural sweater managed to wrap the building in a retro seventies flavor and this relaxed aesthetic well suited the mellow vibe of the bar.
Definitely the most elevated work of the SUPERCRAWL, Max Streicher's two huge inflated figures rested atop the building housing Mixedmedia at 154 James St. N. The giants were gently swaying thanks to a mild wind and this natural movement remained perfectly synchronous to Striecher’s familiar motion aesthetics. These forms were noticeably refined as both facial features and toes were handcrafted in detail. One figure sat slouching while the other lounged across - either just awaking or preparing to retire. In this instance it cannot justifiably be said “it is lonely at the top” for these graceful yet slumbering companions reinforce Striecher is at the top of his game.
Otino Corsano is new genre artist who remains conceptually linked to the Los Angeles art scene. His next solo exhibition Happiness Part 1 will be featured at p|m Gallery this coming November. His art writings and artist interviews are published in artUS magazine, ARTPOST, and his own blog. He has taught at the University of Toronto and is a Sessional Instructor at OCAD University.
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