'The Tesla Project' / 'Lifecycles'

We need more science – and more art shows inspired by science – as pleasing and stimulating as these two

<i>Tesla With Crooke's Radio-meter</i>, by Cathy Savage
Tesla With Crooke's Radio-meter, by Cathy Savage

'The Tesla Project'

Invenio, 916 Springdale
Through July 28


Art.Science.Gallery, 916 Springdale
Through July 26

As part of this past weekend's Tesla Project celebration, Art.Science.Gallery juried an exhibition at Invenio, the digital production studio down the hall at Big Medium's Canopy compound. There, upon the vestibule's three walls: images of that once and future genius Nikola Tesla, interspersed with related works inspired by the man and his inventions and pigeon-loving peculiarities.

Difficult, it would seem, for any artist to match the unearthly beauty of the AC induction motor conjured by that dapper Croatian engineer in years past, and yet the creatives represented here didn't strive in vain. Witness Cathy Savage's Tesla With Crooke's Radiometer, an intaglio-and-graphite portrait of Tesla forming the background within a roughhewn shadow box, relevant objects – a light bulb, a radiometer, a pair of dice (each of which displays its three-pips side), a tiny white dove – occupying the shelf overlooked by the inventor's handsome visage. Behold Tanya Davis' pair of Tesla-Punk Ducks, the cyborged waterfowl a slight tangent from her usual sculptures of clay and metal, the idea here being, the artist says, "an electric duck powered wirelessly by Tesla's coil transformer." Ponder the existential resonance of Morgan Chivers' Particulate Pulse (Inertness Is a Relative Matter), a photoprint of his sculpture in which paper-thin glass discs are suspended on a glass tube which is, in turn, suspended from loops of live wiring; this is technology in the service of art, generating both depth and aesthetic brilliance.

More, too, to be seen in this small Invenio space; meanwhile, back at Art.Science.Gallery, the reason this exhibition isn't on those walls: the "Lifecycles" show featuring the sculptures of John Self and Matt Norris. Self creates caricatures of animals with a wild variety of found objects, and his fabricated creatures range from the goofy-whimsical (that's a pig over there, right?) to the ingeniously evocative (Eden never knew such a cunning serpent as Self's vacuum-hose snake). Norris renders bicycle chain, nails, and carefully cut and polished lozenges and shields of sheet metal into stunning replicas of arthropods, his battalions of oversized ants and pill bugs swarming over the pristine walls, accompanied by the odd spider and a squadron or two of large dragonflies boasting etched-copper wings.

"What we need more of is science," as Chris Onstad's Achewood reminds us. That goes double, we suggest, when what's inspired by or created through science is as pleasing to the eye and stimulating to the mind as this fine pair of shows.

More Austin visual art
"Ryan Cronk: Migration Wisdom, Chalk Lines, Tracings, and Undertow"
This solo show explores new existential threats in sharp analytical prints and layered chaotic collage

Seth Orion Schwaiger, Sept. 5, 2014

"Michael Anthony García: Chimaera"
This ambitious solo show explores gender duality with the help of furniture and clothing borrowed from friends and family

Seth Orion Schwaiger, Aug. 29, 2014

More Arts Reviews
Renaissance Austin's <i>My Big Fat Bahookie</i>
Renaissance Austin’s My Big Fat Bahookie
Lorella Loftus' really funny new play preaches that everybody's got back, and that's just great

T. Lynn Mikeska, April 28, 2017

The Phantom of the Opera at Bass Concert Hall
The Phantom of the Opera at Bass Concert Hall
This new touring production makes a grandly restaged, compelling tale of thin source material, with a chandelier drop that still thrills

Elizabeth Cobbe, April 28, 2017

More by Wayne Alan Brenner
Frankenstein’s Babymama & Friends
Frankenstein’s Babymama & Friends
Brooklyn's Invulnerable Nothings bring the G-g-gothic goodness

April 26, 2017

Austin's Weird Homes Tour Returns!
Austin's Weird Homes Tour Returns!
Some of your fellow citizens are really livin' that dream, boy howdy …

April 21, 2017


'The Tesla Project' / 'Lifecycles', Austin visual art, Art.Science.Gallery, Invenio, Nikola Tesla, Cathy Savage, Tanya Davis, Mogan Chivers, John Self, Matt Norris, Canopy

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)