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Budd/ Kuehnle/Schatz at Lawndale

2/4/07

For a show put together in four weeks to fill an unexpected vacancy, Jimmy Kuehnle and Richie Budd's installation at Lawndale was great. The fact that I'd seen a version of Budd's piece across the street at Finesilver Gallery a few months ago negated some of the shock and awe, but it was still impressive. Budd's survival vehicle is similar in spirit to the environments of Andrea Zittel- both are fantasies of a mobile self-sufficiency that is enormously appealing to people rooted, as we all are, in a complex, settled society. Both have an aura of helplessness, always aware of the impossibility of escape, but longing for it all the same.


Jimmy Kuehnle's sculpture/performance Kiss the Sky was extravagant in theory, but Kuehnle waltzed and wallowed around the gallery with spiritless foolery. He never bumped the audience or Budd's fragile piece nearby. Maybe he was tired, if, as the artist statement says, he had spent the day in his inflatable clown suit bouncing around the streets of the museum district. Normally, I have enormous indulgence for such boyish shenanigans, it's one of my weaknesses, but Kuehnle just wasn't acting stupid enough.

Mark Schatz's rotating steel planters outside Lawndale would have been fun if they weren't so dangerous. It's the kind of art you immediately want to mess with until it breaks. Sean Carroll thought so, shoving them around with muscular concentration outside the opening. The piece, Untitled Landscape Device-HEDGE combines normally stationary plants with creaky steel sculpture, but it seems like a whole lot of hardware for a very tiny joke.

I'd seen Schatz's Perpetual Motion before, too, in San Antonio. It's fun, for a moment, to feel like a giant stepping into Schatz' miniature landscape of freeways, clouds and cities, but what could have been a model railroader's delight is encumbered with an IDEA. The piece is made from Schatz's used moving and storage supplies. Badda-bing. The best thing about the piece is the tiny airplanes.

also by Bill Davenport
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