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Francesca Lohmann and Rob Rhee
Frye Art Museum, Seattle, Washington
Recommendation by TS Flock

Rob Rhee, “Typecast OOO,” 2019, cultivated gourd, brass plated steel, pegs, 8 x 9 x 11”. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Jueqian Fang

Was scheduled to run through April 19, 2020


Curator Amanda Donnan united two sculptors with complementary visions in what became “Subspontaneous.” Francesca Lohmann and Rob Rhee come from different places thematically, but they have a mutual interest in changeable and living forms and the root need for control.


Lohmann's sculptures include potato roots and shoots cast in bronze and plaster “sausages” and “pillows.” The “pillows” retain the imprint of the fabric that held them, as they droop over the edge of pedestals or sink heavily into beds of foam. The placards everywhere reading “please do not touch” are more than the literal precaution; the textures beg to be felt.


Rhee's works, entirely less inviting to touch, are mostly comprised of gourds that have been warped into tortuous shapes by the cages of steel and PET plastic in which they were grown. Gourds have been used as vessels for millennia, but in all that time, they've probably never been quite so put upon as they are in Rhee's work.


But life finds a way, as they say. A life's determination to slip into any place it can fit is evident in Rhee’s gourds and, too, in Lohmann's sausages, whose surfaces are mottled with the colors of mold from their casings. Both artists set the boundaries and the terms of creation, but they choose not to fully dictate the final form. It's worth noting, too, that “Subspontaneous” expressly emphasizes this theme. In other bodies of work both artists have acted more as instigators and witnesses, ceding more control. For instance, Lohmann has placed large, solid-looking blocks of taffy in fields or interiors, and documented them over weeks as gravity and entropy prevail and the masses flatten and ooze out. The results produced by unpredictable outcomes in “Subspontaneous” are because and in spite of their attempts to constrain them.

Frye Art Museum

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