Sunday, October 14, 2018

Raine Bedsole at Callan Contemporary

“Jesus was a sailor, when he walked upon the water...  only drowning men could see him..” So opined Leonard Cohen in his epochal 1967 ballad, Suzanne. Similarly, the historical Buddha is often depicted serenely floating on a lotus flower. If spirituality is so closely linked with water, New Orleans may be the most spiritual city in America. If that sounds far fetched, this Passage expo extends Raine Bedsole's  long exploration of spirit vessels that, like New Orleans itself, can seem magically suspended in a sea of humidity. So what are we to make of this armada of welded bronze, copper, and steel pirogues that float in space in much the way deceased Egyptian pharaohs sailed across the night sky in buoyant Nile barques when they died. These are hardly uncharted waters for Bedsole, whose skeletal vessels have been a consistent theme, but each new iteration reveals new facets of her ongoing investigation via new tidal currents of connections. Here the spindly crosshatching of Lachesis blurs the  boundaries between Native American canoes and both the verdant veinous expanses of banana tree leaves and the gossamer wings of vintage airplanes. Likewise the swampy streamers dripping from the similarly skeletal Maia suggest bejeweled root systems that blur the boundaries between the earth and the sea in a sensibility that evokes a perspective beyond the all-consuming currents of techno-minutia that that the 21st century imposes upon us.

Indeed, contemporary techno-minutia is just the latest version of a very old story that was once succinctly summarized by a late lawyer friend of mine: “Life is a hustle.” But, as the Buddha, Jesus, Taoist sages and saints of all stripes all agreed, just beyond the latest hustle is a chill space where the connectivity far exceeds anything available on your cellphone. Those broader and more supportive currents are silently yet resonantly conveyed in Bedsole's Buddhas, top, as they seem to float on lotus petals amid climbing vines in a realm where addictive algorithms melt into the oceanic currents of the cosmos. Or as Bedsole herself puts it: “When I have dreams of flying, I am always in a boat.” ~Bookhardt / Passage: New Work by Raine Bedsole, Through Oct. 29th, Callan Contemporary, 518 Julia St., 525-0518;