Willard Boepple
ways and means,1999
pine with pickling stain

The recent group exhibition at Tricia Collins Contemporary Art, entitled “The Way Things Work”, gave forth an opportunity for viewers to think about the currency of sculpture and three-dimensionality. It included several small sculptures and a painting, all of which seemed to question the viability of action together with form and content. Most of all, it discussed industry - not in the sense of Commercialism, but in the pure sense that concerns physicality, function, and possibility.
Placed upon two pedestals, John Clement’s steel-rope sculptures have the ability to cross the seldom explored territory between metal-sculpture and line drawing. In contrast to much of his previous work, which is usually much larger in scale with I-beams, steel pipes, these are much more intimate in their size and content. While euler’s math is able to draw forth a type of fascination for the link between mathematical processes and chaos, the other work, untitled, with its rusty phallic shape, is one of those enjoyable paradoxes between hilarity and lyricism.
Sal Scarpitta’s sculpture is a bronze rendition of a doorknob set with an unexpectedly small gun inserted into the keyhole. That it is a gun instead of a key doesn’t seem to be unnatural—and a small plate on the top reads the engraved inscription st joan’s door. It is one of those works of art that may be obvious in its form, but manages to keep its meanings’ well-kept secrets behind a locked door. The other cast-bronze work in the show, Vik Muniz’s cane, leans surreptitiously in one of the corners of the room. Dark brown like a rich chestnut walking stick, it looks very nondescript and ordinary until you try to lift it—it’s extremely heavy, and very non-functional. It is trickery at its finest.
The only wall-mounted work in the show—and the only work made of wood, WIllard Boepple’s ways and means looks like an engine component of some sort that has been caught in the middle of its action. While it remains an unidentifiable piece of machinery to this set of eyes, the sheer beauty of the turbine shapes smoothly carved out of wood pieces and thinly colored with white, lets the viewer observe the simple beauty of form and function. Devon Dikeou’s take me i’m yours consists of an ongoing, functioning used raffle drum with a winner’s ticket inside. Like all of Dikeou’s work, this piece has an economy of means and an industrial beauty. With its latticed gold exterior propped upon a little stand, it looks not unlike an antique birdcage. This particular work, along with Muniz’s cane and Scarpitta’s st joan’s door seem to especially embody the wry humor combined with that strange sense of beauty that is reminiscent of Dada.
Tucked away into a small alcove of the gallery is a Mark Milloff painting with his trademark style of thickly rendered lines of paint. However, Milloff is not without his surprises—green ladder is refreshingly stark and simple. Milloff has cast away a darker, earthier pallette for a bright, clear one where the nuances of a ladder are formed with simple lines of green paint staggered in parallel lines through the center of the painting. It performs a deception of the eye that is very similar to Muniz’s bronze sculpture. green ladder perhaps conveys most strongly another notion that seems to pervade this show; a sense of loneliness and isolation that may be due to the inability to be useful or perform.
“The Way Things Work” may not tell us literally how everything happens—that is not its purpose. These machines are depicted but they’re not real—they’re portraits of objects. In the world of physics, a machine is something that enables us to perform actions that we wouldn’t be able to accomplish without the assistance of this third-party object. Even something as simple as a triangular ramp is classified as a machine. “The Way Things Work” serves us with relics that are not able to be used in a mechanical way. This show questions the survival of objects that do not exist in an virtual landscape, including sculpture.

Layla Lozano
New York, New York