LA Times review of exhibition “Another Thing Coming” featuring CSULB Art Professor Christopher Miles and CSULB alum Noah Thomas
Posted on September 11, 2014 by School of Art
LOS ANGELES TIMES ART CRITIC
“Another Thing Coming: New Sculpture in L.A.” is the kind of exhibition more museums should do, and more often. It checks in on the status of a misplaced but provocative artistic thread, providing a welcome update.
Nine years ago, the UCLA Hammer Museum made waves with “Thing,” a survey of 20 younger, L.A.-based artists. The show chronicled a return to prominence of object-sculpture — an artistic category that had taken a back seat to installation-oriented sculpture, video, photography and even painting since the 1970s.
The Torrance Art Museum’s “Another Thing Coming” shows that, a decade later, object-sculpture is alive and well. If it doesn’t have the punch of the Hammer show, that’s probably because it lacks the earlier outing’s element of discovery and surprise. Instead, guest curators Jason Ramos and Megan Sallabedra take satisfying note of a continuing evolution in the work of 14 artists.
At least two recurrent themes turn up. One is a consideration of traditional crafts in relation to sculpture. The other is an emphasis on hybridity instead of purity. Both are often encountered in a single work.
The use of glazed clay by Mary Hill and Christopher Miles — the former to pile sexually suggestive bananas and melons on a broken phallic obelisk, the latter to fashion crypto-mechanical floral creatures — extols the handmade virtues of ceramics, sculpture’s oldest manifestation, to ruminate on distinctly up-to-date questions. (Miles, perhaps not incidentally, was a co-curator of the Hammer’s “Thing.”) In “Psychic Grotto V,” a lumpen little cave of hand-formed strips of muddy brown and dark green clay, Anna Sew Hoy fashions a grim little model for an anti-Romantic hideaway from modern life.
In “Another Thing,” shades of “Thing” are most evident in Noah Thomas’ sculptures. Handmade forms are integrated into the limbs and branches of fallen trees in works loosely reminiscent of sculptures by Krysten Cunningham and Lara Schnitger from the earlier show. But Thomas takes off into his own peculiar dimension by inserting tiny electric fans within the tree limbs, turning a sculpture suspended from the ceiling into a cross between a Calder mobile and a military hovercraft.
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