Trash becomes treasure at Bookplace exhibit
By John Chambless
The boundless creativity shown by members of the Trashy Women art group is wonderful to see, but a bit humbling. Seeing what these women can do with what most people consider junk can make you feel insufficiently creative. Why can't the rest of us look at door latches, keys, shards of rusty metal, clock parts and scraps of wood and see artistic potential?
Fortunately, this exhibit, which opened last weekend at Bookplace in Oxford, can also spark your own creative spirit, or at least make you appreciate the distinctive viewpoints of these women. In a show of highlights, it's easy to find your own favorites.
Maggie Creshkoff's two masks made of wood scraps and doorknobs are expressive and fun. Her standing sculptures – “Noble Grape Man,” “AJ Has the Last Word” and “Larry's Champagne” – are unique characters with personalities, even though they're made of crutches, wooden boxes, shovel handles and an old brush. Creshkoff's angel sculptures – scraps of rusted metal with handmade ceramic faces – are as graceful as ever.
Caryn Hetherston's glass reliquaries are truly dazzling. They are towers of glass vases meant to be lit by votives underneath. In a chamber at the top of each one, she has inserted little bits that can be examined through a lens attached to the top chamber. There's a beetle in one, a mouse skull in another and deer teeth in another. There's a fascinating steampunk air about them – the clear crystal, the old-fashioned viewing lenses and the sad little mortal remains are ever so slightly creepy and sad, yet respectful. You've never seen anything like them.
Speaking of unique, Hetherston's “Transistor Sister” wearable headpiece has the look of a 1920s vision of the future.
Trebs Thompson's “Shrine” is a show-stopper. It's a box studded with countless beads, fake jewels, mirrors, stars, dice and much more. Inside is a backlit stained glass panel showing the Virgin Mary. There are drawers on either side of the doors that could be used to hold the owner's own sacred keepsakes.
Thompson's similarly bejeweled “Butterfly Box” is covered in broken plates, crystals and stained glass. And her “The War Chest” packs a novel's worth of symbolism and subtext into a tower of tiny objects – army men, bullet casings, pearls, peace signs, tanks, jets and jewels – and each drawer holds another little item that relates to the themes Thompson eloquently explores in the piece. It's dazzling.
Sue Eyet's intricate “Poetry in Motion” mobiles are exquisitely composed and balanced creations of zipper pulls, gears, letters, keys and other perfectly-chosen items that make their own artistic statements.
Don't miss Mindy Jarusek's small “Lightswitch Lady,” which defines a whimsical character with a strainer, brush handle, wires and a button. Her “Mindy's Menagerie” series of wall pieces is just as wonderful. She creates off-kilter dog portraits out of doorknobs, keyhole covers and dog tags. Her cat portraits are made out of light switches. You have too see them to believe it. Jarusek also shows a table full of floral bouquets made of buttons on wires, and faucet handle flowers in oil can vases.
The items are selling fast, but will be restocked, so don't miss this exhibition of unbridled creativity that will surprise you at every turn.
“Trashy Women” continues at Bookplace in Oxford through Nov. 23. The bookstore and art gallery is open Fridays through Sundays. Visit www.bookplaceoxford.com.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, e-mail email@example.com.