Sunday, March 25, 2018

Lin Emery at Arthur Roger

The novelist, Milan Kundera, once wrote, “We pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded...” and only in retrospect can we “find out what we have experienced and what meaning it has.” Looking back at “modern art,” Lin Emery's sculptures seem as timeless as anything by Eero Saarinen, Alexander Calder or any of the great modern designers who infused the forces of nature into their creations. Like nature, creativity often just seems to happen and Emery, now 92, has always responded nimbly to its challenges. She was working as a newspaper reporter in Paris in 1949 when she interviewed sculptor Ossip Zadkine and found his studio so intriguing that she signed up for an art class there, and her life suddenly changed. Later, in New Orleans, her devotion to technique became legendary -- but she was washing dishes in her kitchen when her life took another turn as she noticed a spoon balanced on the edge of a cup rocking back and forth in response to droplets of water dripping from a faucet.
In retrospect, the modern design that survived the test of time often reflects elemental forces like the currents of air that gently animate the dance-like motion of Emery's kinetic concoctions, just as Frank Lloyd Wright's pioneering modernism harked to the way traditional Japanese design reduced natural forms to their essence. Hints of Asian calligraphy even appear in the flowing horizontal bands of her  polished aluminum Anole, top, the pristine mirror-like surfaces of which blend seamlessly into their surroundings as the chameleon lizard for which it was named. But air can be fickle, and the vortex of curving, blade-like forms of Triad reflects the elemental forces that aerodynamic leaves or wind-swept waves manifest in material form. In Tumbler, top left, an airy cluster of elongated vertical forms recalls the fluid upward flickering of a campfire as well as the delicate brushwork of a Zen drawing – yet all are variations of the same poetic serendipity embodied in the motions of a spoon dancing to wayward droplets of water from a dripping faucet in an artist's kitchen long ago. ~Bookhardt / Lin Emery: Recent Kinetic Metal Sculpture, Through April 28, Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St. 522-1999.