I cannot imagine a more enjoyable gallery-hopping companion in Culver City than the “redoubtable and unsinkable” Molly Barnes, former gallery owner and radio celebrity. Highly eclectic, Barnes is ever open to divergent expressions of art making and styles that exceed even the limits of this writer. Her vast experience and sunny disposition makes it a treat to locomote with her through any gallery. Both of us were smitten with the sculptures of Brad Howe, now showing at the Katherine Cone Gallery: truly exquisite and pristinely executed works.
Howe, who studied International Relations at Stanford University then continued his education at the University of Sao Paulo, apparently experienced an epiphany in Brazil that led him to devote himself instead to creating art.Brad Howe’s pieces, which he calls geometric abstractions, present a diverse range of self-imposed geometric restriction. The pristine handling of materials is not merely fastidious but helps imbue each sculpture with an elegant sense of gravitas. His combination of materials–mostly stainless steel, aluminum, and polyurethane paint–are used to create forms of at least two varying geometries, a rather solid form against airy smaller forms, to create what the artist terms “kinetic tension.”
All the works contain stainless steel, a material I’ve always found difficult to handle, and which is testament to Howe’s skill with this metal. Besides his sculptures, Howe is known for his installations, serigraphs and paintings: a rather large repertoire for a sculptor.
Molly and I pretty much agreed on our favorite pieces. Both of us were unable to resist a photo-op moment as she posed with Howe’s mirror sculpture “Gaze.” Other remarkable pieces were “Whitewash,” a strong, solid, stainless steel and polyurethane piece; “Fete,” a highly sensual, seductive work of two curving forms, one form with evenly spaced holes on a red polyurethane surface, the other form plain but showing the reflected holes on it’s surface; “Plot,” a similar joining of circles with simple uniform shapes but with Calder-ish mobiles instead of holes; “Imbroglio,” demonstrating yet another divergent shape juxtaposition of fractal-like cutouts shadowed on an inner, plainer form.
Could Frank Gehry make buildings out of Howe’s forms? Absolutely. Discoveries never cease at the Culver City art scene.