Sculpture Key West Now Open at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Twenty-four new art installations sponsored by Sculpture Key West are on view through April 18 at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

The internationally acclaimed exhibition was juried by a panel of art experts led by Shamim M. Momin, Associate Curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City and co-curator of the 2008 Whitney Biennial.  Sculpture Key West, a non-profit organization, has been bringing large-scale sculpture to Key West since 1995. 

"The jury selected works, from a field of 134 submissions, with an overall theme or idea in mind: site-specific works, temporal and ethereal works, and pieces that engaged visitors and the seaside park setting," said Karley Klopfenstein, SKW Director of Exhibitions.  

One dazzling sculpture is a 250- foot long shimmering ramp that gradually rises as it approaches the shoreline.  Superbly crafted by the collaborative team of Steven Durow and Jessica Cappiello, of New Orleans, the installation is especially dramatic when its path aligns with the sunset and from the roof of the fort

Color plays a strong role in many of the works.  Richard Medlock created a bright blue ring of trees in his work called Calling Down Yves Klein.  Anja Marais’ shocking pink trailer is parked in the pines where a cheerful mat welcomes visitors with the words “Trust Me.”  Inside the trailer, however, is a pack of bizarre snarling "dogs" that are startlingly close to a viewer's face through a beaded entry curtain.  The canine creations are made of sewn of paper and sport deadly looking taxidermy teeth, the entire effect being extremely creepy--yet oddly enjoyable.  Additionally, Tom Lendvai’s installation at the Botanical Garden uses color to define a plane in space.

Some works reference contemporary political, social or environmental issues.  Blane De St. Croix’s Detainment Map is a fenced enclosure in the shape of the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba.  Norm Magnusson’s faux historical sign forces one to think about our current immigration policy.   Owen Mundy and Joelle Dietrick collaborated on a piece called Timely Preparation for Future Eventualities, which consists of a 24-foot mirror on the beach, doubling the beach and calling attention to the sensitive nature of our disappearing beaches as the environment warms.  Additionally, the piece effectively conceals the naval facility adjacent to the park, offering perhaps an optimistic comment on a future that demands less military activity.  Jennifer Gonzalez and Nathaniel Hein created a surreal greenhouse using standard construction materials.  The walls of the greenhouse are filled with sealed bags of seeds, soil and water; the fast-germinating seeds will sprout and die during the exhibition.  Suffocation, as each of the bags contains the standard “this is not a toy” message, is key to understanding their piece, which makes a statement about the nation's excesses as a consumer society.

Many of the works in this year's exhibition are abstract creations.  Karlis Rekevics has crafted a chalky-white architectural work that takes its starting reference point from the ruined munitions fort adjacent to Fort Zachary Taylor as well as the Navy fence surrounding the park.  The work is different from every angle, forms become alternately solid and open.  Paige Pedri’s work, titled Emancipation, is a series of abstracted forms that leap joyously from the rock wall along the shipping channel.  Although her forms were created in her studio in New York, Pedri’s towering rock-like sculpture fits perfectly among the coral and granite stones that surround her site.

Temporal works are in evidence everywhere, especially in Lori Nozick’s work Sal, Non Sal 124 which is made entirely of salt bricks.  The work will respond directly to the elements, and will perhaps dissolve over the duration of the show when exposed to wind and rain.  It is sited at the waters edge and the form is that of a ruined tower, calling to mind the maritime history of the island. 

Also temporal is an installation/performance by Julia Handschuh.  Her small porcelain eggs were scattered along the beach.  Their fate is unknown; some may have disappeared into the waves, been picked up by beachcombers or crushed by sunbathers.  If you find one, a small tag on the piece encourages you to call the SKW audio tour and hear a recorded message by the artist.

Two audio installations created by Diana Shpungin have left listeners confused and, in some cases, alarmed.  Her installation Never to Become installed at the Fort restrooms features the theme from Doctor Zhivago being played on a winding-down music box and is periodically overwhelmed by the sounds of swarming bees.  Several people have been avoiding the area. 

Her other installation Perfect Disconnect consists of two standard pay phone booths, facing each other with only an inch in between.  The booths “talk” to each other in mechanical language: rings, busy signals, old-fashioned dial up Internet noises, and more.  The concession stand staff have been patiently explaining the work to some frustrated tourists who want to use the phones.

Lauren McAloon dazzles the audience with a huge installation of her wind flutes, which first appeared in a smaller version at an installation at the West Martello.  Walking into her sculpture has a sacred feel, the flutes howling, as the rusted metal objects half buried in the sand reveal themselves to be cast-off rudders of refugee boats. 

Humor is not forgotten among three of the works, sited all near each other.  John Martini’s Stoop sits randomly in the field.  With just a set of stairs and a mailbox, visitors have to wonder who is pulling their leg.  But the artist is regularly collecting his mail, notes left by friends and strangers alike.  Jackson Martin’s Rooted consists of a cheerful evergreen tree perched atop a hugely exaggerated root ball wrapped in burlap, a startling combination of the natural and the cultural.  And, Mary Mihelic has presented a giant golden halo, freshly dented and dropped from the sky.  Covered entirely in gold leaf (even the underside so that it would glow from underneath) it shines in the sun.  With chains still attached, we assume it will ascend again any minute, as soon as the crane arrives.
  
Overall the exhibition continues Sculpture Key West’s growing reputation as a leader in contemporary outdoor sculpture.  Part One of the exhibition has been open at the West Martello Tower in Key West since January 18; both it and the Fort Taylor show continue through April 18.

For more information, visit www.sculpturekeywest.com or call 305-295-3800.