Building Beauty

November 3 through December 19, 2010
Opening reception: November 3, 2009, 6-8pm

Building Beauty . Image #8

Building Beauty

curated by Lesley Heller


November 3 - December 19, 2010


Lesley Heller is proud to present Building Beauty, a selection of works by artists who use construction materials in their art.  Curated by Lesley Heller, the exhibition includes works by Brenda Garand, Ruth Hardinger, Grace Knowlton, Ted Larsen, and Jim Osman. 


The artists featured here employ a wide range of approaches, and explore disparate themes.  What unites them is their repurposing of materials designed, not for “high art” practice, but for the practical labor of erecting buildings and infrastructure.  Like any practitioner choosing a medium, each individual artist values these materials for their physical properties as well as for the ideological associations that accrue to them, as to any useful material in contemporary life. 


For some, like Brenda Garand, the physical capabilities of the materials are foregrounded.  In her sculptures, the versatility of construction materials is pushed to its aesthetic extreme, exploiting the ability of materials like steel and wire to give the illusion of fragility in spite of their strength.   For others, like Ted Larsen, the provenance of these materials, their history as “non-art” items, forms an important thematic current, questioning the importance of a so-called High Art practice or pedigree.  Salvaged construction materials subvert the traditional artworld hierarchy, grounding his formal abstractions in reality while underscoring the importance of context in a world of forms and ideas. 


In Jim Osman’s work, the theme of building and its accoutrements is more overt, becoming the dominant subject matter.  Vignettes of bricks, blueprints, windows and doorframes are literal building blocks in compositions that seek to contain space and combine forms in playful, accidental harmony.


Ruth Hardinger’s concrete casts in cardboard, paper, or plastic highlight the fluid aesthetic that concrete possesses, while drawing out an ideological message about the unintended permanence of artifacts of our disposable culture.  Her works’ concretions are raw, massive, weighty, but also fluid and balanced, evoking totems, pillars, still life, even portraits.  Similarly, Grace Knowlton’s works emphasize the weight and strength of steel and concrete by employing them in minimalist, monumental forms.  By their very simplicity and elegance, her sculptures draw out the aesthetic properties of her materials, freeing concrete and steel from their humble utilitarian roots to a realm where they can exist as objects of austere beauty, symbolic of the strength and endurance that are their natural properties.


Brenda Garand received her MFA in Sculpture from Queens College, City University of New York, and her BFA in Sculpture from the University of New Hampshire.  She has been the recipient of a Fulbright Grant to travel to France, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Research Grant, and many other awards and honors.


Ruth Hardinger studied art at the Art Student’s League of New York, and received a BA in Classical Studies from Hunter College.  She has been the recipient of a Fulbright grant, and her work is included in many private collections including that of the New York Public Library and the Library of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 


Grace Knowlton received an MA in art and education from Columbia University Teachers College and a BA in art from Smith College.  Her work is included in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery, and many other private and public collections.


Ted Larsen has a BA from the College of Arts & Sciences at Northern Arizonan University. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and an Edward Albee Foundation residency.


Jim Osman received a BFA in sculpture and painting and an MFA in sculpture from Queens College at the City University of New York.  He has taught at Parsons School of Design, Dartmouth University, and Queens College and has been awarded residencies at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony.