January 23, 2009

Sculpture Key West opens at The Key West Garden Club at West Martello Tower

Sculpture Key West is now presenting eight site-specific installations at the Key West Garden Club at West Martello Tower as part of Sculpture Key West 2009.  The works in this year’s exhibition were selected by Shamim M. Momin, Associate Curator from the Whitney Museum in New York, and a panel of respected artists and community members.  The sculptures are united by a theme of temporality, lightness and community engagement.  

Most prominently displayed is Ludwika Ogorzelec’s Space Crystallization, which visible from the street, much to the delight of passing cars, bicycles and pedestrians.  Although at first it appears very organic and web-like, upon further examination, the viewer sees a mechanically organized structure.  The arches of the structure mimic those of the historic Martello Fort.  Created almost entirely from industrial plastic wrap, the structure is light enough to defy gravity and strong enough to suspend coral stones just above ground.  It’s a challenging space for any artist, with foliage, eye-catching architecture and a steel fence, but Ogorzelec’s work manages to dominate the space.

Inside the building is a museum case filled with delicate egg-like structures created by Julia Handschuh and three large photos of the objects on the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.  Each egg has a small identification tag with the artist’s name, an edition number and a phone number that connects to the cell phone tours (an audio recording that offers the artist’s message about the work).  Handschuh scattered these objects at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and they are meant to be found and released into the world.  The artist documents the objects’ afterlives via a website, www.juliashoe.com.

Addison Walz has created a hilarious cornucopia titled Flowers Don’t Grow Out of Nothing.  Oversized newspaper vegetables and dirt spill out of a roughly constructed “horn.”  A sprinkler perches on top of the construction and waters the vegetables, which are embedded with seeds of radishes, strawberries, beans, squash and other vegetables.  During the exhibition, the vegetables will break down and the seeds will sprout, replacing the fake food with the real.

Liliana Crespi and Jamey Grimes have created works that engage the site in some fashion.  Crespi’s giant doilies cheerfully hang like manicured spider webs in the palms.  Grimes’s installation, in the gun mount, floats like a cloud.  The material--corrugated plastic--has been melted, stretched and burned to mimic organic phenomena. 

Karen McCoy and Robert Carl collaborated on a work titled Sound and Site Walks.  McCoy is well known for her “deep mapping” of the history of a place to create site-specific installations.  Robert Carl, a composer, selected five sites in the garden and McCoy created a variety of ear trumpets from natural, local materials to focus the audience on a particular site and sound.  Visitors are invited to pick up an ear trumpets and listen.  Most poetic are those made of local sponges:  they offer the audience a chance to listen to the ocean through these sea creatures.  Also interesting is the opportunity to listen deep inside the enormous Strangler Fig tree in the garden.  Carl created a sensual audio component to the work, which can be downloaded on the Sculpture Key West website, www.sculpturekeywest.com.

Michael Berens’ work evolved during installation week, and the final form was the result of collaboration with the audience members that attended the artist’s lecture on January 16. Thus, his sculpture is named  Artist Talk, Audience Impression--Back to the Drawing Board.  After his presentation, Berens offered the group the opportunity to push their hands into specially prepared clay.  The audience responded enthusiastically--jabbing and poking their fingers, rings, fists, etc. into the clay--and the resulting forms are seen sitting on the chalk board at the base of a fireplace in the fort.  The hand of the artist is evident in the cast plaster forms that make up the rest of the sculpture.  Wind and rain will presumably make further marks on the chalkboard.

Lastly, the video installation by J. Susie Hwang, installed in the historic gun mount areas, is a meditation on endurance and ritual.  As its title suggests, Prostration Thousand Fold depicts the artist prostrating herself 1000 times.  The images are layered and ghostly, shown from four different angles and in constant motion.  For the opening night, the artist performed the 1000 prostrations on a bed of clay, which gradually took on the impressions of her knees, feet, hands and head.  The residue of the clay floor, along with the video creates a powerful experience.  In order for the video to be seen during the day, the artist made a dark space, which further enhances the feeling of stepping into a temple.

Exhibition programs are available at the West Martello.  Admission is free.  The Garden Club is open seven days a week from 9:30-5 pm.  Visitors are encouraged to call the free cell phone tours and listen to the artists describe their works.  The phone number and directions are included in the exhibition program and are on each plaque next to the sculpture.  

The second portion of the exhibition at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park will open on March 1 and will feature twenty installations at the 54-acre park and two more works around the community.  Some of the participating artists are Roy Staab, Karlis Rekevics, Diana Shpungin, Lauren P. McAloon, Andrea Stanislav, John Martini, Lori Nozick, Anja Marais, Cameron Gainer, and Mike Ross.  For more information, contact info@sculpturekeywest.com or 305-295-3800.