Sunday, November 14, 2010

Shannon and Dary at Heriard-Cimino

Elizabeth Shannon is back. Not that she ever went anywhere, but her early reputation was based on Zen-like environmental installations of found objects that radiated the surreal “rightness” of the happy accident. Forays into conceptual postmodernism yielded fewer gems, but here she returns to what she does best. My favorites are the simplest. CIRCLE WITH HORN is a precisely constructed wooden circle, an antique “form” from which a metal machine part was long ago cast at one of the foundries that once dotted the riverfront. Within it, a steer horn reclines as comfortably as a cat on a windowsill, and there’s really nothing to it. Yet the old “form” and antique steer horn radiate the hyper-reality that only objects imbued with the unspoken weight of the ages can possess, and their union, like a found-object koan, evokes a sense of serendipitous predestination. In FLOW, an old wooden form like a cleaved aqueduct bearing a stream of rounded pebbles evokes the elemental tension between the age of steam and the natural forces of the river and the rocks it carries downstream. Some other pieces are fussier or more baroque, but there are more iconic “Shannons” in this rather meandering show than we have seen in some time. On the walls, some deeply hued photographs created via the cyanotype process suggest a promising new direction for her archaic-surreal aesthetic.
Beth Dary’s delicately crafted porcelain barnacles clustered along the walls are small and subtle even as they strikingly resonate the essence of barnacle-ness. They are also amazingly detailed, with a precision matched by her black and white encaustic and egg tempera drawing series of dots—like coral formations or meticulously calcified sea creatures—on paper. Both the drawings and installation are based on the way New Orleans and New York were shaped by the river and harbor in this ingenious expo of unlikely elemental elegance. ~Bookhardt

RIVER CULTURE: Sculpture and Photographs by Elizabeth Shannon
SURFACE TENSIONS: Porcelain Wall Sculpture and Drawings by Beth Dary
Through Nov. 30
Heriard-Cimino Gallery, 440 Julia St., 525-7300;