CULTURE FRONT: A world of words at Tayloe Piggott

By on December 23, 2014

A detail from Mark Fox’s ‘Americancer’ on display at Tayloe Piggott Gallery. (Photo: Mark Fox)

 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – When you step inside Tayloe Piggott Gallery, be prepared to enter two distinct yet related conversations. The concurrent shows, “Mari Andrews: Gravitational Pull” and “Paronomasia” (both hanging through February 7, 2015), invite the viewer to consider how mark, symbol and form “talk” to each other, taking us inside the basic elements of communication itself.

Andrews’ language is what she might call “sculptural drawing.” Using wire, steel, and other linear materials, she creates forms that evoke patterns in nature but also symbolic language. She often incorporates found natural material like stone, coal, cork, and wood into the sculptures, which hang on the wall in a carefully arranged non-pattern. The individual pieces range in size from approximately 10 inches by 10 inches, to 30 inches by 30 inches.

From a distance, a wall of Andrews’ sculptures looks like an elaborate dream-catcher display. (In fact, several pieces are titled “Catcher.”) Or perhaps like a competition between spiders of the world to see which could spin the most unusual web. Taken as a whole the show conveys a sense of otherworldly delicacy, as if it were a collection of ephemeral cave paintings easily rubbed out. The brilliance of the drawing materials, however, is that they are in most cases literally as strong as steel and not nearly as vulnerable as charcoal or ink.

The pieces are meant to hang in groupings. In the current arrangement, a piece called “Clearpoint,” a 10-inch circle of wood with shards of mica pointing inward like teeth, is framed by “Comb,” a steel piece shaped like a round hat with fringe, and “Northsouth,” another steel-only piece shaped like a cross-sectioned pod. Those three pieces are framed again by two sculptures with lines that fan outward rather than being contained within round shapes. Can the pieces be “read” in a line? How are they related to one another? Are they pleasing simply aesthetically, or do the shapes and materials have something to say to one another?

The second gallery holds “Paronomasia,” a group show of work that, as the title indicates, engages in punning or word play. The standout pieces are by Mark Fox, who has a rather sexy CV (puppet theater, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, MoMA, etc.). Two of Fox’s pieces, “No Knothing” and “Americancer,” are cascading assemblages of works on paper (words, figures, shapes) held together with archival tape. Colorful and frenetic, they appear at first to be maps, but on closer viewing the form feels more random than intentional, like a petering out. They are intricate, arresting pieces – a viewer could spend hours reading bits of text and laughing at cartoon characters.

I personally found the pieces creepy and kind of gross. “Americancer” contains a number of phalluses, which underscored the aggressive scream of the piece – made interesting to this reviewer only because of the contrast with it’s material as the delicate bits of paper taped together are much more of a whisper than their content.

Viewers familiar with Piggott’s artists will recognize work by Lance Letscher and James Castle, which volley in conversation wittily with Jane Hammond’s collage of ancient aphorisms and Maria Porges’ tools made of books. Lisa Kokin’s threaded instruction sheets are humorous and subtle.

My personal favorite piece is Sarah Frost’s “EFT,” a large mosaic of discarded computer keyboard keys – from a distance I expected small undulating tiles and when I got close, I laughed in recognition. I never thought someone could make that dull off-white greyish hue of a computer key look appealing.

Finally, a key piece in this show is Katina Huston’s “Dissemble.” The ink drawing of a tangle of bicycle wheels underscores the investigation into how form and shape can be assembled into language, and how we might just as creatively dissemble words into a jumble of material on the studio floor.

 

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About Meg Daly

Meg Daly is a freelance writer and arts instigator. She grew up in Jackson in the 1970s and 80s, when there were fewer fences, but less culture. Follow Meg on Twitter @MegDaly1

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