Friday, February 19, 2010

A Feel for Time

There are many ways to look at time. It seems an idea only to be pondered in the abstract, but there are ways to actually LOOK at time. At A-X-D Gallery, in Center City Philadelphia, two artists give us their versions of how to do that in a show titled "Fabricated Stories." David Carrow is a found object sculptor who loves stuff - old stuff. I don't ever want to know what his house looks like, but what he does in making art with his stuff is pretty interesting. He has a predilection for tools, both domestic and industrial, a number of which seem valuable enough on their own to make an antiques dealer drool. In one of the most successful pieces in the show, "Masonry," he takes a kitchen shelving unit and fills it with objects that are fun to look at but keep prodding at you until you realize the work isn't as whimsical as it first looks. The central shelf holds large mason jars, stuffed with things such as wooden clothespins, buttons and marbles, and above them hands a neat row of hand eggbeaters. It's a little "Leave it to Beaver" tableau - but then you start thinking about how those objects don't mean much anymore, and how our fast-advancing technological age has little need for what's on offer. The eggbeaters are rusting away before our eyes. Carrow adds a further prod towards work that's over and done with in the caked artist's palette tacked up behind the display, and also in the strings of wooden beads that hang loosely from side to side, bringing to mind an abacus counting off the minutes until it all crumbles and dies. Hidden below the shelf, behind a metal screen, one finds an axe, a tool he repeats in other works, a working aid that also does a great job of ending life. His exhibition counterpart, Dolores Poacelli, takes an entirely different tack, but her elegant, carefully worked pieces also have a subtext of time. She works with recycled metal, but in neatly arranged wall-hung squares and rectangles in which she emphasizes the shine and reflection of the material. It is only when one looks closely that finds faint remnants of print and image, a legacy of the old technology of printing plates. She uses rust on some of the works, painting it on and then neatly scratching it away to make an art of controlled form and design. In some ways her work is 180 degrees from Carrow's but with her rust and recycling, she is also dealing with ideas of the gradual ebbing of time. The show is at A-X-D Gallery on 10th Street through March 6th.

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