June 1, 2017
Fred Eversley
Art in America, 06/01/2017
Kristen Swenson

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Fred Eversley
Art in America, 06/01/2017
Kristen Swenson

When I visited this exhibition of thirteen works by Fred Eversley, the black, white, and gray polyester resin and acrylic sculptures that serve as the show’s focus reflected the New England winter sun with scintillating brilliance. Made between 1974 and 1980 by the Los Angeles–based artist, the objects here feel like transplants, born of the Southern California sun and perhaps having captured a bit of that radiance within.

The high shine of the works is attuned to the concept of energy—the properties of light, the mechanics of solar energy, and the transcendental quality of energy as life itself. The parabolic lens, with its capacity to reflect light toward its focus, is the leitmotif of the show, and indeed of Eversley’s career. A few of the sculptures on view are milky white or translucent black concave lenses that are densely pigmented at their thick perimeter walls and thin to a transparent, glassy central oculus, and a few are open rings of opaque gray or pinkish white. These various pieces lure the spectator to gaze through them while also taking in the inverted reflections they produce along their curving surfaces. The phenomenal effects are familiar—think of Dan Graham’s pavilions or Robert Irwin’s acrylic columns. “Seeing yourself seeing,” in the words of Eversley’s Light and Space comrade James Turrell. But unlike the encompassing, environmentally scaled works that Eversley’s contemporaries made, his objects are intimate. They concentrate Space Age optimism in shiny, perfect forms suggestive of Brancusi sculptures. Three works in the exhibition consist of halves of cylinders that have been sliced at an acute angle, the wedges (mostly shown individually, though in one instance displayed as a pair) standing upright so that the edges of the cut surfaces form parabolas that shoot upward and then back down.

As an aerospace engineer during the Cold War, Eversley was cognizant of the implications of energy stored and deployed. He made the lenses using the centrifugal force of a repurposed turntable that had produced the casings for the first atomic bombs. Drawn to the bohemianism of Venice Beach, he redirected his technological and material investigations toward art; his meticulously polished forms were in dialogue with those by “finish fetish” figures with whom he worked and exhibited, such as Larry Bell and John McCracken, though his concerns are more deeply rooted in the physics and metaphysics of light. He made four of the show’s sculptures during a residency at the National Air and Space Museum in the late 1970s. Lacking the proper ventilation to work with liquid polyester, Eversley constructed these sculptures using precast pieces of acrylic. Two consist of triangular pieces layered and hinged to produce wall-bound arcs that evoke spinal columns of large beasts; a third—the only non-parabolic work on view—is a pyramid made from slabs of black acrylic. Despite Eversley’s technologically advanced material, these sculptures suggest ancient remains.

Eversley was the only African American participant in the Light and Space movement. The exhibition was curated by Kim Conaty of the Rose in partnership with Art + Practice, Mark Bradford’s art and education center in Los Angeles, where the show debuted last fall. At the Rose, which is located on the campus of Brandeis University, the show is the latest in a series of exhibitions of African American abstractionists of Eversley’s generation, including Jack Whitten and Melvin Edwards. These are major artists who, like Eversley, have not been viewed as central figures in their respective milieus, a misrepresentation that the Rose seeks to correct without introducing the polemics of race. Exquisitely installed in the Rose’s 1960s-era Brutalist jewel-box gallery, flooded with natural light from plate glass windows, Eversley’s exhibition is exemplary: meditative, harmonious with the historical architecture, and stridently contemporary.

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March 27, 2019
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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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