Craig Wedderspoon felt the need to invent a new word to describe the work he created for Good Citizen this summer. Biotextural Landscapes succinctly refers to its various elements: vaguely biological forms with an emphasis on surface texture, landscape-like amassing of similar elements (i.e. blades of grass). Like Tara Donovan’s pencil fields, Wedderspoon’s array of aluminum squares and rows of balsa wood suggest landscape by extensive repetition. Whereas Donovan’s installations offer a sense of endlessness, Wedderspoon’s sculptures feel arbitrarily finite. The four works in the room could be sketches for installations, each sculpture too small for its parts to blur away into the mass they form.
Some of the works depart from material study into delightful imagery. Bolsa reminds me of a nightmare. The patchwork aluminum squares form a hardened quilt, shaped like a billowing sleeping blanket filled with bumpy negative space. Requiem comes with an awesome story: a previous piece of Wedderspoon’s was caught up in a tornado in Alabama. The tornado lifted, mangled, and relocated his piece. The piece, Fast, was recognized by a citizen of the town as Wedderspoon’s, and returned to the campus where he teaches. Subsequent publicity solicited mail from as far as Tennessee with pieces of Fast that had broken off. Inspired by the events, Wedderspoon created Requiem, an inverted vortex of aluminum patchwork. The piece connects an inner and outer plane of a traveling tornado on its side.
When the works focus on their materiality, the exhibition takes a dive. The tall poplar pyramids in Meadow are simply placed next to one another, calling attention to the varied colors of the found poplar. Steel rectangles in Pillowed practically arrange themselves into little pillows. Without a strong playful or complex intervention, the forms seem trite and lack what punch Requiem and Bolsa have to offer.
Various imperfections in the system of Wedderspoon’s exhibition veer between charming and sloppy. The welding joints of Requiem look like sandcastle piles, colorful and knobbly. The side that shows those joints sometimes seems like the ‘back’ of the vortex, but Wedderspoon frequently breaks that pattern. The appearance of the ‘back’ intermingled with the ‘front’ bodes well with the chaos of a storm; with no surface strictly inside or outside. On the other hand, the two darker gray pieces on the generally lighter, sparkly gray Bolsa stand out arbitrarily. And unlike the marbleized joints of Requiem, the same bumps on Bolsa look incidental, having been color treated with a sparkly gray sandblast.
Nostalgic for sculpture revolving around material exploration, Biotextural Landscapes delivers more in its back stories than the objects themselves. The pieces make great use of the space in Good Citizen, and for their cold, serene abstraction, the sculptures may be better placed in the entrance hall to the gallery beyond them.
All images courtesy of Good Citizen.
Netta Sadovsky is an artist working in St. Louis. She currently teaches at St. Louis Artworks. Additionally, she has co-organized group exhibitions around St. Louis including ARE WE THERE YET?, Primordial Ooze, and Post Post Office. Netta received her BFA in Painting from Washington University in St. Louis. www.nettasadovsky.com