'Artistic Textures: Studies From Wood to Wax'

This pairing of works by Ed Lindlof and Sharon Kyle Kuhn gives old materials new life

'Artistic Textures: Studies From Wood to Wax'

Gallery at the J, JCAA,

7300 Hart, 735-8000, www.shalomaustin.org

Through Feb. 22

<i>An Introspective Life</i> by Ed Lindlof
An Introspective Life by Ed Lindlof

Dare we wax critical about wood? Might an evaluation of wax read as wooden?

Let's eschew wondering if and just tackle both at once, as inspired by the current exhibition at the Jewish Community Association of Austin's Gallery at the J: "Artistic Textures: Studies From Wood to Wax."

Two shows, here, two artists responsible: Ed Lindlof is the man with the wood; Sharon Kyle Kuhn is the woman with the wax.

Lindlof's works, a series called "A Life," provide a view of many distinct lives, each one represented by a beginning, a middle, and an end in compelling miniature sculptures lathed, joined, shaped, and shining from various types of wood. Wood that's been stained, in some cases; wood that's been painted, in others; wood that's been added to or subtracted from, as history adds and subtracts from our lives. Sometimes the wood is covered with gravel, sometimes gilt with gold leaf, and, repeatedly, in minute variations among this panoply of lives, shaped into recurrent symbols that add depth and provide ligneous and liminal clues to the distilled biographies. Chairs, ladders, cages, windows, bodies bound mummywise, staircases leading to only the Original Joiner knows where: These and other exquisitely crafted objects (complicating an intriguing parade of Platonic solids) inform triplets of sculpture called, for instance, A Damaged Life, An Industrious Life, A Sacrificed Life, An Introspective Life.

Lindof's own life – An Artistic Life, perhaps? – includes a history of professional graphic design, of excellent work completed for The New Yorker, Bantam Books, and other prestigious print concerns. If you knew his creations in that realm, you might mourn the industry's loss, until you saw this show or the other sculptures that the man has turned his expert hand to in the years since; then you'd be glad for the career switcheroo, because its results enrich the life of modern art even more than they must enrich Lindlof's own.

Kuhn, instead of fabricating from the natural, takes the already fabricated – floppy disks, nails, string, photographic slides, magnetic film – and, by embedding it in thick fields of encaustic wax, renders textures that seem, eerily, as if they naturally occur somewhere. Discretely framed squares and rectangles swirl with amalgamations of similar technological jetsam, seeming like patches torn from the colorful, rugose hide of some barely imaginable Leviathan. You can look at these works and appreciate the cleverness of the intermingling, the way the future once promised by the rough hardware of the industrial revolution or the more effete effects of computer storage systems are captured, drowning, in a medium – encaustics! – of the past. Or, hell, you can just look at them: There is much beauty here, where once was trash.

These two exhibitions stretch the length of the Gallery at the J's long, long hallway; Lindlof's, capturing lives in polished three-dimensional haiku; Kuhn's, giving new life to materials long after product obsolescence; both, marking time and space in memory's most delighted arena.

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'Artistic Textures: Studies From Wood to Wax', Ed Lindlof, Sharon Kyle Kuhn, Jewish Community Association of Austin, Gallery at the J

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