In an exhibit with a lot of sounds, collages, and moving pieces, Kyle J. Bauer’s showcase is easy to take in. It’s full of playful, balanced sculptures with solid colors or simple patterns. His pieces are mainly stacked geometric shapes, primarily built of painted wood, slip cast porcelain, fiberglass, and Formica, with some astroturf and streamers thrown in every sculpture or so. 'Composition l 1 2 6 2 l' is made up of a rectangular block, partially painted in blue and partially covered with astroturf, resting on top of square wooden frames. Two oval-ish shapes sit on top of the block, one of which is black with red polka dots, while the other has that color scheme in reverse. There’s also 'Composition l 4 1 1 l' and 'Composition l 8 6 4 l,' which perform similar balancing acts. The reasons behind the numbered titles seem willfully obscure.
On the other end of the room, the titles are more specific. 'Dorothy’s Gramophone' looks kind of like a gramophone and kind of like a Dorothy: Metallic gold streamers that spout from blue oval objects are mounted on the ends of two poles that stick up behind a large cone lying on the ground. A blue sphere that has gold streamers draping from its surface sits at the base end of the cone. The way the streamers hang from the sphere, they look like the hair of a girl who’s lying down, and the cone starts to look less like a gramophone and more like that girl’s torso. After that, it’s hard to go back to seeing it as a gramophone because you then realize it never looked much like a gramophone anyway.
With its reference to the synthetically fruity ice pop, 'Tropical Bomb Pop (Thanks, John)' comes across as essentially childish, a quality that might make this a good piece to turn to if you’re looking for a unifying theme, especially since the next sculpture over looks like an ice cream cart—it’s a large block, with wheels on each side. But it’s called 'Cynosure I,' a term used to refer to the North Star, which seems to intentionally disrupt any attempt at an easy interpretation.That’s the nice thing about the mysteriously numbered compositions—they make it easy to decide not to try to make sense of it all. You can just look at colorful shapes and appreciate that they’re all bright and orderly (although, in 'Tropical Bomb Pop,' there’s one rod that is leaning off center), like a Mondrian painting made 3-D. Still, like an ice cream, Bauer’s showcase is a palate cleanser for the rest of the more conceptually inclined exhibit.
Sondheim Artscape PrizeIntroduction
Lauren Francis Adams
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