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David Eckard
Portland Community College, North View Gallery, Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer

David Eckard, “Quite, Quite,” 2019, painted wood, fabric, leather, mirror, artificial hair, 45 1/2 x 28 x 3”

Continuing through February 15, 2020


In his exhibition “Placards and Placeholders,” David Eckard reprises some of his iconic visual motifs — an agreeably incongruous blend of sculpture and painted surfaces, strange-looking viscera that only vaguely resemble human body parts, and objects perhaps inspired by BDSM paraphernalia. But there is a newly palpable overlay of nostalgia that imbues these pervy mixed-media sculptures with an elegiac poignancy. A longtime queer activist, Eckard, now 55 and married, draws aesthetic inspiration from contemplating his middle-aged body and musing about his trajectory from erstwhile kink-meister rebellion to established mid-career respectability. He does this using saucy, sexy materials: tufted red satin, mirrors, and wig hair in “Quite Quite,” steel and a cascading bolt of fabric in “Cottage,” and a steel spike hovering above a rice-paper aperture in “Foresight” that is downright sinister.  


The latter work, a study in dangerous potential energy, hits upon a larger theme in the show: tenuousness. As in an earlier work, “Dowswer’s Faith” (2017) the feeling of the sculpture, like an aging body, is meant to inspire waning confidence. They balance on fragile fulcra; a small disturbance and they could topple. Other signifiers bespeak age-related concerns. The mirrors of self-evaluation, faces that wrinkle, appendages that sag; inscrutable placards that evoke protest signs from yesteryear’s causes; and, not so subtly in “Petagog (my mastadons),” a reaper’s scythe. Darkly humorous, deeply thought-provoking, Eckard takes an unflinching look at the artist in maturity and finds the mirrors’ reflections both fearsome and fabulous.

Portland Community College, North View Gallery

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