Continuing through October 14, 2017
Bay Area conceptual artist Gay Outlaw infuses her inquiries into what makes something a work of art, or not, and the properties of varied materials. Some are unusual, like the caramelized sugar of a few years ago, but presented with craftsmanship and wit. Her current show, entitled “Ozone” — a reference to climate change — comprises work in bronze, clay, wood, aluminum, encaustic, digital photography, cast glass and pâte de verre, or glass paste, which is made from firing colored pigmented glass powders in a mold. While the works explore a range of ideas, and do not obviously come from the same artist, a spirit of experimentation and discovery pervades.
The stars of the show were the eleven pâte de verre “Meatloafsunset" sculptures, life-sized renditions of those familiar ingots of mystery meat. They are arrayed on a tabletop, as if posed for a Wayne Thiebaud painting. Each is given a glazing or topping of an unusual color such as teal, cyan, yellow, pink, amber, etc., that is suggestive of sweets rather than savories. A pair of abstract folded-metal sculptures adorned with paint — "Kitchen Sink" and "Bent Box” — and a quartet of bronze or glass sculptures, idiosyncratically evoking vessels, modelmaking and hats, are dispersed throughout the gallery. Outlaw’s strangely funny, memorable mixed-media wall pieces pair color photos of street photography with blobs or ‘flows’ of colored glass paste, as if someone had flung colored mud to desecrate the picture-frame glass, and which the artist had found to be improvements (as Francis Bacon sometimes flung oil paint onto canvases that he wanted to save or improve, gambling with destruction). The glass blobs, or lava flows, also recall the free-form poured urethane sculptures of Lynda Benglis. Outlaw’s titles are as droll as the idea of the works playfully tantalizing the viewer (or spy). But, like Hamlet, they pointedly retain their mystery: "Untitled (Spring Green Flow with Artist Hair),” "Untitled (Orange Flow with Waders)," and "Untitled (Navy Flow with Wistful Poodle)."