Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review: HIVE

Posted By on Sat, Aug 27, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Thursday night, we attended the opening of HIVE at GOCA 1420. Overall, it's a great exhibit, the kind that grows on you after you leave. One attendee hinted that the show could have benefited from an even more minimalist approach, perhaps having only one piece from each artist. I had to agree with the sentiment, since there seems to be a slightly off-balance feel to the show, too cluttered in some places and too spare in others.

But there's much that does work. One example is Elaine Ng's "Coalesce" wall piece, a lovely collection of slip-cast porcelain objects shaped like soup bones and arranged as an elegant swarm.

A detail from Ngs Coalesce
  • A detail from Ng's "Coalesce."

Nearby, Laura Tyler's encaustic pieces, 100 in all, gradually reveal an incredible level of depth and technique. Outwardly abstract shapes in green, deep blue and magenta hint at a bee's compound vision of the world — glimpses of leaves, petals and water that buzz by. In a theme that jives with the idea of community and colony, the works, though individually fragmented, all together link to a larger, better whole.

Candy Apple, one of Tylers 100 encaustics.
  • "Candy Apple," one of Tyler's 100 encaustics.

Matt Barton's giant hive installation, titled "Dome," succeeds in its raw simplicity. With nothing but responsibly sourced wood from Park County, Barton wove the branches and saplings into an old-fashioned beehive shape — no nails or glue. It stands on a sturdy, low table with a hole in the middle, and to access the inside, you crawl, like a bee into a hive, underneath the table and up into the work.

Unlike many of Barton's past installations, which have been packed with kinetic elements, kitschy details and video projections, this piece is incredibly rustic. Once inside, you become naturally contemplative, and study the sensitive play of light that shines through what a fellow attendee called the "knitted wood."

Bartons Dome
  • Daisy McConnell
  • Barton's "Dome."

I admit that, at first, I was a little underwhelmed, but later became quite taken with the way the piece forced me to interact with it. Curators talk about this kind of thing a lot, and I thought I knew what they were getting at — after all, I've crawled through installations before. Not so. "Dome" asks a lot of you (for one, it's not easy to access), but the payoff is huge. I can't stop thinking about it.

For more on this show, which is on display through Oct. 5, click here.

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