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Inside/Outside at
Valley House Gallery

Photos and Story by J R Compton

Inside/Outside — Spring Sculpture Show with Spencer Anderson, Dorothy Austin, J. Clayton Bright, Jon Buck, Mike Cunningham, Martin Delabano, David Everett, David Hayes, David Hickman, Tracy Hicks, Anita Huffington, Rodolfo Sotelo Laison, Ed Lindoff, Anne Chase Martin, Henry Moore, Nat Neujean, Sherry Owens, Michal Pavlovsky, Charles Pebworth, Tim Prentice, Art Shirer, Charles Umlauf, Tom Woodward ( Right: Promise, 2000, box elder burl, 21 x 13 x 8-inches ) and Miguel Zapata at Valley House opening through June 9, 2001

Inside the Valley House Gallery for Inside / Outside, Spring Sculpture Show was busy with lots of little, smallish and medium-sized, three-dimensional joys, many by Dallas artists. Some are serious, some not.

Toil's Wheel, 1997, bronze, 7-1/2 x 3 x 9-1/4-inches

Simple but effective - Martin Delabano's nose and grindstone. Turning the crank squeaks the sculpture.


Zig, 1999, 26-1/2 x 17 x 6-inches

A riot of tiny black lines, curves, arcs, circles and shadows ( thanks to my flash ). I knew instantly it was an Art Shirer and that it must bounce, turn, wobble or something. But finding the crank wasn't easy. I guess I wanted a bright red notice. One of the Vogels showed me where to put my finger, and we wobbled away in strange, disjunctive circles, while the whole piece bounced and bobbed.


Untitled, cast acrylic, 12-1/4 x 11-3/4 x 7-inches

Sometimes it's the simplest things that reverberate the most in memory. This slightly rippled, chunk of acrylic by Mac Whitney still scintillates in my mind. I wanted to pick it up and hold it, but I knew fingerprints would be a mess, so I restrained myself, and now I just remember that elegant glass green mass on a long table full of small sculptures.


Titan, 2001, carved and polychromed mahogany,
19-1/2 x 23-1/2 x 12-inches


I've long appreciated the carved, fanciful but often realistic, wood objects by David Everett -- first carousel horses, now lizards, toads and birds. Something else I wanted to touch, but daren't.

Suffice to say, the stuff inside the gallery was nice and extensive. There was lots more than what you see here. Lots. Ah... but outside, it was magical.

I've been visiting Valley House since Spring Valley was a verdant, forest-lined, two-lane blacktop. Now it feels like a highway out there, but down, and into the grounds, walking past the gallery away from the road, it's amazing.

Valley House's Kevin Vogel told me to be sure to walk all the way "back to the lake," and I'm glad I did. "Lake" is a little large for the pondish body of water way back in the gentle, green, wooded sculpture garden, but it was beautiful back there, lush with spring, and dense with early humidity and magnificent sculptures.

Autumn, 1999, welded steel, 122-1/2 x 54 x 42-inches
Photo courtesy Valley House Gallery


Guarding the drive back to the lake is Dallas sculptor Sherry Owen's curvi-spatial steel work that felt like spring with its out-jutting, vaguely flower-shaped appendages, but it's certainly an autumn color. I couldn't reach the top, but I had to ride my hands along those outstretched "hands." I've been warned off touching sculpture in so many museums and galleries, it's nice to feel free in an outdoor setting.

Illusional Circular Motion, 2000,144 x 156 x 60

John Brough Miller's large repeating circles invited mind, instead of hand touch. I walked all the way around it to get just the right view for this photo and enjoyed every new angle of this elegant beast.


Contessa, 1999, 89-1/2 x 22-1/2 x  17-1/2-inches

Almost hidden in the green growth all around it, this thin-line, three-dimensional drawing by Spencer Anderson was difficult to photograph but delightful to behold, its hard, thin lines contrasting delicately against all that verdant mass.


Chicara, 1985, 71 x 30 x 18-inches

I've known Dallas artist Art Shirer for many years and admired his work at least that long. But I'd never seen this odd combination of heavy and light, curving and massive lines and shapes. It reminds me of some giant, beetle or roach-like insect, and it was a treat to see it here among Valley House's natural habitat.


Solar Gain, 1993, 24 x 48 x 8 inches

I've altered this lovely lady mirrored in "the lake," because in the original photo, David Hickman's aptly named Solar Gain appeared as only a brilliant white blob of light both in real and reflected in the pond. I'm hoping that the small image that I appropriated from the Valley House website and placed into this framing landscape is the same sculpture I saw on the far side of this little green, outer city paradise.


Eight Step Wedge, 1996, 84 inches long

As lovely and often elegant and eye-pleasing as all the art works above were, it was this amazingly subtle, kinetic wave of tiny, articulated metal sails by Tim Prentice that captured my imagination and attention, vividly and extensively. I noticed it as I first approached the shaded pond but was unable to get just the right photographic view of it.

So I passed it by and wound my way around the several diverging pathways back, beyond the pond, and made a giant circle back, discovering other, lesser sculptural gems all along the way, then arced back to it and its constantly changing reflection in the lake.

It's called an Eight Step Wedge, but I didn't know that while I watched it turn slowly in the slightest of breezes, gently spiraling in on itself ( above ) and out into a long line of not-quite shimmering, solar sail-like elements strung from a series of independently twisting fulcruming armatures.

I sat on the moist, stony edge of the lake, stretching my digicam's tiny zoom ever closer, to capture the ephemeral details of the Wedge. I watched for about twenty minutes as it slowly writhed, curled and stretched out full length ( below ).

I might still be there, except my camera batteries finally gave out, and I walked back out of the extensive and quiet sculpture garden, back into the noise of real world traffic, inelegant shapes and bright, blasting sunlight.   

Tiny images of all work in all current shows are visible on the Valley House Gallery website. Click the Current Exhibition link on the main page, then the images link on the resulting page describing the Inside / Outside Spring Sculpture Show.


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