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It's about shape, simplicity,
texture, art + craft.

Story + Photographs by J R Compton

Laura Abrams - Eggcentric, 2003

Laura Walters Abrams - Eggcentric, 2003

We've been watching — and enjoying — the simplified shapes and funky oxidized textures of Laura Walters Abrams' found and sculpted object metal pieces for awhile now. See photographs and comments at Strange Art Night, Art in the Funky-town Hood, New Texas Talent's Survival of the Strangest and Littler Show Reviews from 2002, all on this site.

Brad Abrams, Ship

Brad Abrams - Ship - cast glass

For that matter, I've been checking out Brad's blown and cast glass work since he opened his Hot Shop in Oak Cliff more than a decade ago. But when I saw this Ship at the 2005 Salon Du Fit show in the Bath House this summer, I started taking notice.

I used this photo of it in the DallasArtsRevue calendar, then cringed when I saw it had been renamed Yellow Submarine for this show, although that bent-nail vertical support and holed hanger has to be a periscope. Maybe; the amber cast glass rocker shape is still an ark to me.


Brad Abrams - Salmon Spawning, 2005, cast glass

I was attracted by the refined shape and simplified expression of this rippling amber cast boat, afloat on its minimal dark blue wave/stand. I'm less certain of these other new shapes, however. Something fishy about the fishes. Goofy cartoonish. But fun nonetheless — and an appreciated step in the directions of simplicity and abstraction.

Laura's Propellers

Laura Walters Abrams - Hip-Poppies, cast bronze, 2005

Laura's propensity, meanwhile, for 3-D asterisks, though a continuation of long interest in paddle shapes, goes beyond obsessive. These multidimensional fan-like objects floating in the long, narrow white space in uptown Mesquite are amusing as well as aesthetic. They got rhythm.

It's a pretty, unified and colorful little exhibition. Little only in space. There's dozens of pieces lining both walls. Whoever put it together — I'll assume Laura and Brad — did a marvelous job in the compressed little hallway.


shotgun space that is M A C

The Mesquite Arts Center Visual Art Gallery and Hallway
with Laura on the left and Brad on the right

There's a couple more pieces I want to talk about. Visiting Laura's shared studio space on last year's Art in the Hood tour was grande fun, although I've since caught myself wondering how long she can stay true to the simplicity. This little show answers with both old and new work.

Laura Abrams - Fairy - found object art

Laura Walters Abrams - Fairy, 2004 - bronze

I may have seen Fairy in the dense forest of bronze props on the Hood tour, but here, placed simply and solo on a higher wall shelf, this Arp-like piece achieves an upturned hummingbird swoop of uncluttered yearning, sophisticated yet utterly simple, found-objectivity on the verge of sculpture by its choosing, and polishing.


Laura Walters Abrams - Plight, 1999 - found objects, brass

How then does this piece fit the progression? It might help if I knew what that central brass symbol meant. When I first saw this, I assumed it was new, indicating a more complex extrapolation of directions. But since it is six years old, it shows she's been working with these radiating curved planar shapes for quite some time now. And that the continuing direction is simplicity.


Laura Walters Abrams - Spinning, Spinning, Spun, 2004 - bronze, glass

I've seen this plumb bob of a shape before, and I like seeing it again. Another heavy clunk of top-like, nearly spiraling bronze with a two-tone blob of blown glass nipple grafted on top. An odd juxtaposition of materials paralleling shape — the clunky elegance of an extended blob of heavy metal so simple that it makes us think about shape and materials.


Brad Abrams - Snapper, 2005, cast glass

And not all that distant in concept, execution, color and implied shapes from this waffled splat of a cast glass aquatic Pac-Man, who's only missing its...


Brad Abrams - Fish Tail

Brad Abrams - Fish Tail, 2005

I liked this piece better before I read the title. But I still like it, and it'd be nice to see more abstraction and less distraction with making it try to look like something else. That may be at the heart of what makes one chunk of glass or bronze, art and another of the same stuff, craft. Not that the two cannot coincide.

Here, they do. But there's a flipness sometimes in craft that would make better art if it didn't' have to identify as something cute, although I'm not so sure it would sell.

Brad Abrams - Crevice of Glass

Brad Abrams - Crevice of Time, 2004 cast glass

I'm even less certain of this bifurcated piece. About as fish-ish as anything in the show, but it's nice not to have it called that, although this title does seem a tad overblown. The more I look at this image, the more like eyes are those mount holes, and like faces those interfitting parts become — and the more their apparent moods depend on the position of the spikes in their eyes.

Fun show. Nice to get to see its mini retrospective of Laura's work and Brad's new.


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