Wooden works from the funny to the fanciful at Philadelphia Sculpture Gym – Knight Foundation

Wooden works from the funny to the fanciful at Philadelphia Sculpture Gym

Philadelphia’s membership-based sculptural resource, Knight Arts grantee and overall three-dimensional artistic gem, the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym (PSG) opened up on First Friday in November with their latest show, which focuses on the process of wood. The exhibit, curated by PSG Gallery Director Steven Earl Weber, includes work by Carrie Mae Smith, Kevin Bielicki, Dan Ostrov, J. Kyle Keener, Micah Adams, Sara Langsam and Geoff Thompson.

Sara Langsam, “Round and Round.”

In the show, the forms range from the flat to the flamboyant, the functional to the funky. Immediately inside the door is a gigantic rosette by by Sara Langsam entitled “Round and Round.” Pieced together from curved pieces of logs and bark coated in epoxy resin, the smooth surface could easily be imagined horizontally as a coffee table, if not for the fact that it hangs vertically like the rose window of a European Gothic cathedral. The interior pieces look quite floral, like petals or scalloped leaves, except the translucent, sap-like material holding them together is actually as flat as a pane of glass.

Kevin Bielecki, "Joint Spirals."

Kevin Bielecki, “Joint Spirals.”

Kevin Bielicki’s “Joint Spirals” swirl and twist together in another wall-hanging piece that seems more like a coral reef than part of a tree trunk. The individual segments are ribbed and loosely joined together, but retain their separateness in that each is a fully independent structure. They simultaneously jut outward from the wall but draw the viewer’s attention into their openings.

Subsequently, one is almost forced to look through and past the artwork itself. While this seems contrary to most creations – that perceiving the area inside the object is as important as the form itself – it makes their contours all the more alluring.

Geoff Thompson, "Stair Master Prototype 1.0."

Geoff Thompson, “Stair Master Prototype 1.0.”

A strangely functional inclusion by Geoff Thompson is his “Stair Master Prototype 1.0.” Like a trip back in time to the days before gyms (and sculpture gyms, for that matter), this mostly wooden exercise machine is a non-artifact from the present that attempts to recall where the beginnings of indoor workouts may have once resided. The two foot pads actually move, and it is entirely possible to mount this beast of a contraption for what amounts to an entirely archaic and rugged means of stationary movement. Whether or not it vaguely resembles a torture device probably depends upon one’s feelings toward indoor exercise equipment to some extent, although it is certainly not a stretch (of the imagination, but possibly the hamstrings).

J. Kyle Keener/KeenerVision Studios LLC, "Shoe Shoe."

J. Kyle Keener/KeenerVision Studios LLC, “Shoe Shoe.”

Most vexing and challenging in the show is undoubtedly J. Kyle Keener/KeenerVision Studios LLC’s “Shoe Shoe.” This assemblage of found wooden and metal objects is not unlike Thompson’s machine in its raw, industrial appearance and moving parts, but offers apparently no use whatsoever. It is constructed from wooden shoe stretchers or at least foot-shaped chunks, and complete with wheels, gears, and a glowing orange light at its peak. All of this is perched atop a round metal pole fixture, keeping its wheels which beg for the street well out of reach with the ground.

Some creations in the PSG “Process: Wood” show bemuse, while others entertain, and still others merely present the beautiful curves and textures of the wood itself. As usual, the gallery space of this Frankford Avenue makers haven offers a sampler of the fare that its members are constantly hard at work creating. The current show will be on view through November 29.

Philadelphia Sculpture Gym is located at 1834 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia; [email protected]philadelphiasculpturegym.com.