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Kennett Square sculptor featured at Delaware Art Museum

09/08/2015 10:49AM ● Published by J. Chambless

Kennett Square sculptor Stan Smokler at the opening reception for 'Reconstructed Elements.'

Gallery: Reconstructed Elements exhibit [5 Images] Click any image to expand.

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

The welded steel boxes surrounding Stan Smokler's new sculptures at the Delaware Art Museum may frame the works, but there's no taming the dynamic energy that's going on inside them.

Smokler, whose studio is just south of Kennett Square, is one of three artists in “Reconstructed Elements,” which opened on Sept. 5 on the second floor of the museum. Smokler reassembles found objects and steel to create metal sculptures that are unlike anything you've ever seen.

His pieces reflect a sly wit, a subtle use of materials and a spirit of adventure. Who else but Smokler would set out to interpret a triptych by Hieronymus Bosch in metal? But here it is: “The Garden of Earthly Delights” has floral and plant forms, the suggested figures of a man and woman, and a bird subtly tucked into the base. “Adam and Eve” has a bristling menace suggesting Adam's fall, and “Hell/Damnation” has all the terrifying weirdness of Bosch's visions – a spiked ring, a ball with a dagger jutting out of it, and a lethal-looking hook capturing the gestures and menace without being overly literal.

As in all of Smokler's work, there's room for interpretation here, and visitors can circle around the works, which sit on pedestals, to see them from different angles. The shadows cast by the museum lighting are also interesting counterpoints to the sculptures themselves.

“Which Way Did They Go?” is a tangled tower of zig-zag bent metal harrows, one of which peeks over the top of the box enclosure. “Caged Botany” expresses the swirling shapes and tendrils of a plant refusing to be confined in a box. “Beacon,” with its suggestion of a light atop a tower, is studded with drips of molten steel that give it an organic appearance. “Sentinel” has the right suggestion of armed menace, with an armored breastplate and spears. “Flying Wallendas” has the arcing, swooping lines of acrobats above, and a large net underpinning the action.

At the opening reception on Sunday afternoon, Smokler said the show, which he shares with Delaware sculptors Richard H. Bailey and Helen Mason, is the result of a year and half of work. “I was invited by Helen Mason,” he said. “Richard Bailey started the entire process. We knew each other's names, but we didn't know each other. I did work for this show once I found out I was in the group.

“I began with the idea of a still life,” Smokler said. “I would do the work first, then create the frame on the outside to really hold the piece. The ideas of proportion and scale are really important to me. I kind of worked that as a motif.”

All of Smokler's work uses altered and found objects, so he fit right in with the theme. “That's what I do,” he said. “I find material, I rework it, and each piece echoes to me, sort of talks to me as I work.”

“Reconstructed Elements” continues at the Delaware Art Museum (2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, Del.) through Jan. 3. Visit www.delart.org for more information.

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

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