Rain or Shine

Something New for Another Sunny Day

At the Contemporary Arts Forum. Shows through October 29.

Reviewed by Beth Taylor-Schott

Ream_beginningstudy.jpgOne of the great things about the Contemporary Arts Forum is how many different things one can see at any given time in the adjoining spaces of its galleries. “Diverse approaches” seems to be a catchword here. With an eclectic group show in the main space right now, CAF provides more of a smorgasbord than ever. Something New for Another Sunny Day, featuring this year’s winners of CAF’s Call for Entries, offers something for almost every artistic mood in which you might find yourself.

If you are in the mood for whimsy that’s close to the core of our culture’s current psyche, then Robert Weschler’s clever constructions and assemblages are for you. You will find yourself delighted and thinking, “I can’t believe someone hasn’t thought of that before.” “Beast,” in particular, is so ingenious as to seem obvious in retrospect — no mean feat.

If technology, conceptual art, and the environment seem like odd bedfellows, prepare to throw your pre-conceptions in the air for a while, or for good, and take a turn among Tellef Tellefson’s works. Don’t miss the souvenir crystals of earthworks. If, on the other hand, it seems like time to indulge your inner pre-adolescent girl (Yes! Unicorns with long flowing locks!), then Teja Ream’s installation will be just the ticket.

As it turned out, on a recent rainy Sunday, I was in the mood for felt. Having grown up in the ’70s, I am naturally skittish around felt and worried there is also going to be macramé. Julia Ford’s works, though, with their elegant, creamily un-dyed forms, immediately put me at ease. Felt comes entirely into its own as a sculptural medium here, without losing any visceral appeal. The tension between the natural and the cultural is only one of the paradoxes these works successfully embody. Likewise, the bulbous, ovoid shapes speak of generation, germination, and growth, while being, in their abstraction and symmetry, imbued with a sense of stability, or even finality. Poets will appreciate the tension between some of the forms and their respective titles.

Geeks will be amused by the extra, Latinate titles. And anyone who knows how felt is worked will immediately catch the irony. These peaceful, self-contained forms have come into being through the processes — or the abuses — of heat and agitation, the alchemy that transforms wool into the inert lattice of felt. How soothing to imagine a few hours stretching and pounding the hand-sized forms on the wall. I often feel as if contemporary art is playing with me. And Ford’s work put me in the mood to play.

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