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As The Crowes Fly

James Crowe - Raptor
70 tall x 60 inches diameter

 

I've been watching 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.

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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.

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James Crowe - Specter, 2002
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 Membership page, 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.

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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 door. -JRC

More Crowe images are on his Supporting Membership page.

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