The Austin Chronicle

Arts Review

Reviewed by Rachel Koper, May 22, 2009, Arts

'Wood & Steel: Works by Caprice Pierucci and Randall Reid'

Davis Gallery

Through June 27

Randall Reid is breaking rules, literally. Wooden and metal rulers, T squares, and thermometers, along with other found objects, all get chopped into his elegant wall-hanging compositions.

There is something naughty and fun about repurposing a functioning gauge. A tool with a scientific purpose is flipped, cut, and layered. It is rendered impotent, transformed into the realm of "faux science," into a mere metaphor for an obsolete data system. Reid plays with this concept in certain pieces. Time and Temperature is part of a thermometer holder with very faded paint. Timeline, Crossing the Border, and Gauging a Moment also feature recombined rulers. Reid writes: "The memories are evoked by the textures I create, and they reside within the materials as well. By combining raw and well-worn materials, I seek to give visual form to our relationships with the past."

Reid uses a steel frame to encompass his materials. He has a distinct sensitivity to texture. He doesn't create "distressed" surfaces; he cuts them out. Some compositions are built-up frames within frames, which he calls "windows." The focal point of the piece is a tiny area with a large industrial support and reinforcing shapes, colors, and textures repeated around it. I am reminded of artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Alexander Rodchenko, as well as locals such as Steve Brudniak, Barbara Irwin, and Lance Letscher. Battleship Sky drew me in with its red, white, and blue painted metal base shape, because I heart Evel Knievel. Then the title prodded me to notice the dark scratches in the red wood panel above the vibrant stripes. The wear pattern looks like the towers and antennae of a ship. Red Sky at night is a sailor's delight, and this is just a great little piece.

Caprice Pierucci, the other featured artist in "Wood & Steel," isn't breaking rulers, but she is bending the rules of woodworking. In her hands, wood looks soft, fuzzy, and flowing. She creates wavy, curving forms that defy function and right angles. They make awesome shadows and feature a very rhythmic and consistent use of negative space. I found myself looking through these interesting gaps and holes. These are mysterious gravity-defying sculptures. I can tell she is gluing boards together, aligning various grains of the wood; she is band-sawing and jigsawing, belt and orbital sanding. It looks like pine, a soft wood, and it looks like she goes at boards with freedom and gusto, letting the grain of each board help determine the final shape. This is the perfect abstract art to hang near natural light and watch the shadows change; hour by hour, they would dance around the piece, changing silhouettes.

Both artists have an intuitive sense of finish texture and overall rhythm. Reid has rusty parts just sitting there rusting and looking great. Pierucci's airy wood is sometimes clear-coated or stained but also shown unfinished with sawdust drifting through it. Both artists allow the medium to be itself, a bit raw and undisguised. This purity is comforting, and there is no doubt as to the thoughtfulness that went into this exhibition of humble materials elevated to fine art.

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