Stairway to Heaven

Steve Brudniak’s densely crafted wall sculptures are as sobering as headstones, as quietly enervating as HAL 9000. Articulated silver serpents undulate like the blindly probing thoughts they represent from a series of brass vaults, each labeled with a religious figure, each reminiscent of the human knack for turning the sublime into cement cellblocks. He makes profound use of the dual reflective and repellent qualities of polished stone surfaces and precious metals. Part of the draw is contemplating whether Brudniak is transcendently self-aware or entombed in his own male-artist hubris. After all, knowing you have a problem is only the first step. This excerpt from his artist’s statement deepens the mystery:

“… to take the viewer out of the world and to that state where there are no words … yes, even no thoughts.

“Recall the mind-blowing sunset you last saw. A heavy reliance on politics, one-liners, and conceptualism in the last few decades seems to have blinded us to that particular basic mission of visual art.”

This from an artist who participated in the rumored first art show in outerspace (documented in part in this exhibition).

Brudniak invites us to ignore the deeply ruminated philosophy that informs the installation, but weights the individual pieces with convoluted names and encyclopedic descriptors. To what extent is a stylized crypt like a Homer, which requires no introduction, and to what end is it like an Eakins? Ask the artist your own questions, and watch two short documentaries at Thursday’s talk. The installation, Selections From Steve Brudniak: Noumenon, and Other New Work, is on display through July 31. Films and artist talk, free, 6:30pm Wed, Jul 28, Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, 116 Blue Star,