The Crowes Fly
Story and Photographs
by JR Compton
James Crowe - Raptor
70 tall x 60 inches
James Crowe's work
in the lobby of the Continental Lofts lobby ( under Deep Elm's most rustic water tower )
on and off for the last week or so.
Art of Joy of Art is a pretty, wonderful exhibition
of 30 of Crowe's flying objects, many that I'd not seen before.
The show opens 6:30-8:30
August 3. See the Calendar and Info pages for more information.
I say watching,
because, unlike most art, James' works don't just sit there,
still as death. They are alive and in constant motion, gyring
gently in whatever current finds them.
Oh, I don't love them all.
I've never fully appreciated his darker, lumpier works, which
sometimes seem heavy and heavy-handed. But I have long coveted
his larger and more lyrically colorful pieces. The ones that
make his lilting colors fly. The ones in this signature showing.
James Crowe - Falling
Men - White & Black
44 inches high x 30 in diameter
I'd always assumed his
works were cut from some amazing, feather light metal -- they
have that shiny, metal-like, reflectant glow. But I recently
learned that all but the most recent of his pieces are constructed
of painted wood and hung with aluminum wire.
That new exception, a giant,
gauzy, multifaceted sail, floats in the gallery's foyer. It was
too big for me to entirely photograph. But you'll see it soon
as you enter. When it floats away, it will be used as the backdrop
for dance. I like the departure, but I prefer the 29 other pieces
in the show.
James Crowe - Specter,
36 inches high x 40 in diameter
Those shapes are simple,
evocative of wind and joy, and they almost always seem just the
right color. Physically and emotionally they attain a subtle
and delicate balance in their elemental dance.
And this space is a glorious
one for Crowe's work. Lots of light comes in the big front and
back glass walls, and there's an airy, open quality to the high-ceilinged,
T-shaped lobby, which seems to go on forever on either side.
Too bad you can't just drop in anytime.
When I first photographed
his work for his DARts
James insisted that the pieces were kinetic art,
not mobiles. But the distinction is lost on
me. I understood his need to distinguish his designs from Calder's
well-known work. But I just don't care. Calder established the
construct. Crowe extends it.
James Crowe - Flames
180 inches high x 40 in diameter
Not all Crowes are serious.
He has his fun with colors, shapes and ideas, and sometimes I
just can't help but smile at them. But then, watching that extended
lobby-full of bobbing, floating, twirling color is a happy-making
experience. I envy the people who live in the building and get
to see this show every day.
For those of us without
the latest security code, however, either show up at the opening
or smear your noses longingly on the big, locked, glass front
More Crowe images
are on his Supporting Membership page.