| A work from the "Tools as Art" exhibition at Blue Star through January 4. (courtesy photo) |
Blue Star changed its formal name not long ago, from the pleasingly rough and experimental-sounding Art Space to the more formal Contemporary Art Center. This new alias may reflect a necessary maturing of the 20-year-old experiment that has been guided by the often conflicting but usually interesting impulses of local artists and their early patrons. But let us hope it doesn't grow up so much that, like middle-age Boomers, it regularly eschews risk in favor of comfort. As one long-time observer of the SA arts scene worried recently, "You struggle for 20 years and you get the sofa?"
| TOOLS AS ART |
Through January 4
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
116 Blue Star
The Hechinger Collection, as it's known, began in 1978 by the eponymous heir to a hardware business who was out to brighten the hallways of his brute offices and to foster among his employees a sense of pride and pleasure in their profession, a sort of redemptive mentality that has not been in favor in high
Side by side, leveled by a theme, the various schools, trends and methods of the 20th century reveal some of their relative strengths and weaknesses. Russian Andrey Chezhin's conceptual photography, represented here by an image from his Kharms series of a faceless man punctured by a single nail, still makes an intelligible political statement. But as a work of art it appears flat and spent next to Berenice Abbott's Hardware Store, whose unobtrusive documentation captures a moment in time when the thrifty frontier mentality was collapsing into mass production and consumption.
William Wiley's color woodcut Eerie Grotto ? Okini ponders human acquisitiveness with picturesque detritus including delicate Asian fans and a steel axe; while Correction a painting by Chester Arnold of a hammer dislodging a nail, appears (I hate to say it) blunt. There is plenty else to talk about, compare, and marvel over in "Tools as Art," but let's not make a habit of it in our "living" spaces. •
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