The Austin Chronicle

Arts Review

Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, December 3, 2010, Arts

'New Work by David Everett, David Hefner, Caprice Pierucci'

Davis Gallery, 837 W. 12th, 477-4929

Through Dec. 31,

Three artists at Davis Gallery in the current show. Three artists working their ways in the once-living world of wood, with different methods resulting in different effects, with not so dissimilar levels of beauty achieved.

David Everett changes the material most, carving – here exclusively from mahogany, no less – the shapes of animals, separate or intertwined with other animals to create a sort of three-dimensional collage. Note first that his skill is nonpareil, that he's no mere optimist struggling to form approximations of his subjects: Everett's renderings are no less precise than if the creature under consideration had suddenly turned to wood in front of him. He adds paint, too, with an expert's hand, bringing each sculpture to slightly muted, natural colors; this turns Everett's creations – e.g., the tower of seaside fauna that features a black skimmer, a skate, an octopus, a dorado, and the (eponymous) scotch bonnet – into perfect concerti of shape and shade. In Privateer, the single subject, a red fox, is left unpainted, the mahogany's natural tone providing all necessary color.

Caprice Pierucci's work is abstract, but abstract in a way that the wood itself, had it a mind, might have imagined as its own best self. Pierucci carves long stretches of what were once parts of a tree into porous, almost lacy streams, reaching from floor to ceiling, set in conjunction with similar lengths to form rhythms that might have beat in the heart of the wood. Ligneous lengths of tans and browns, lightly stained or painted, like truncated rivers carrying the ideas of plant and human craft to the reverential walls. Somewhere, in some forest primeval, the dreaming trees had a legend of a creature that embodied the best of wood, that lived like a tree but moved like a legged thing, that brightened the world with its deep and barkless spirit – these works of Pierucci's are that creature's bones.

David Hefner removes wood from the equation entirely, save for capturing its complex images as vivid prints on paper. Squares and rectangles of manufactured board, their whorls and curves dyed with pigment, are pressed onto paper to leave bright ghosts of themselves behind. Hefner doesn't do this with just any board; sometimes he's specific, printing the back of an antique telephone box to excellent effect. At other times, the artist's propensity for relentless rainbows of color results in a sort of tie-dye effect, the framed prints looking like candy-colored acid-trip relics that might be coveted only by die-hard Deadheads. We're more able to appreciate his monochrome work or his larger prints that break from conforming to the natural grain and, instead, impose the artist's own patterns of stripes. For all that, though, it's his Fire in the Lake – with several colors, but more subtle than any of the other polychrome pieces – that ranks with the best works of Everett and Pierucci, making this a proper three-person show of what small miracles of creation can be worked with wood.

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