I wonder what Webb Woodrow from 706 Greene Avenue in Brooklyn is up to these days?
I wonder if he has any idea he’s part of one of the best art exhibits I’ve ever seen in Charleston, at Spoleto USA, or anywhere, for that matter? If he’s got a clue that his minuscule name and address info buried in the yellowed white pages entry (on same page as Weidman, Berta – from 1150 Brighton Beach Ave, phone # 332-6799) from a discarded decades-old phone book (remember those?) is now part of a Buddha head? Meditate on that reincarnation, will ya?
Actually the whole mesmerizing REBOUND exhibit is meditation worthy, in my book. And in the hundreds of books, magazines, catalogues and printed bound materials that have been sculpted, sawed, dissected, meted out, meshed together, stacked, whacked, carved, glued, nailed, and gorgeously, evocatively, masterfully transformed into landscapes, busts, topo maps of language and image. This exhibit is a page turner in the most artistic sense, as the Halsey Institute and curator Karen Ann Meyers have brought together five contemporary mixed-media artists who re-envision and explore the meaning and value of books as cultural objects in the Halsey’s 2013 Spoleto exhibit. And even though Spoleto itself wrapped up weeks ago, REBOUND has an extended festival shelf life — on display through this Saturday, so hurry!
Though I didn’t make it to much else of Spoleto this year, I’ve been to this show twice now and have been blown away each time. I’m not the only one. At the one other official Spoleto event I went to, Compagnie Kafig’s kick-ass dance performance, I sat beside a discerning couple from Baltimore who have been coming to the Festival faithfully for 10 years — planning their trip months in advance and buying their desired tickets as soon as they go on sale. “But yesterday I saw the best thing I’ve ever seen at Spoleto, and it was free,” she told me. I guessed immediately that she’d been to the Halsey. She had.
I was particularly captivated by the meticulous and imaginative landscapes of Guy Laramee. They drew me in as if I was a hobbit off to explore the Shire or some mysterious corner of Middle Earth.
But I was totally wowed by the larger constructions of Long-Bin Chen, who turns paper and pages into some other mysterious medium, more stone than fiber. His artist notes speak of reclaiming the “cultural debris from the information age.” He seems to be caring for, and loving, the non-digitized detritus that clutters my book shelves at home, and probably yours too, and bringing new life out of the raw material and imagination (or tedium) that some writer somewhere, or some godforsaken phone book creator, summoned at some point in the past.
I urge you to go meet the Buddha, and other wondrous creations in this incredible remnant of Spoleto. And give kudos to Bibliolabs as presenting sponsor (more on them in a future post).
Gallery hours are 11 am to 4 pm Mon – Saturday, with extended hours till 7 pm on Tuesday.