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Chester County Press

Metal and earth at the Oxford Arts Alliance

04/23/2018 09:59AM ● By J. Chambless

'Josephine (Baker)' by Lele Galer.

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

There's a wonderful interplay of materials in “Art of the Forge With a Touch of Earth,” which opened last weekend at the Oxford Arts Alliance. You'll find earth-toned ceramics and sinuous forged metal by a distinctive set of artists who are stretching their mediums in unexpected ways.

Lele Galer's “Josephine (Baker)” is an elegant gesture of steel that encapsulates the grace and essence of the 1930s entertainer. Galer's “Weaving Time” is a rich blend of materials – steel strands partially wrapped in wool and straw, a weaving project made monumental. Galer's splendid rusty metal heart is displayed in the gallery window, and her “Chaos Theory” wall piece is a bristling tangle of jagged, intertwining bands of metal.

Rob Sigafoos has several strong pieces. “Pathway to Freedom” is a dramatic, gravity-defying sculpture that uses cast-off chain, boulders and a climbing vine to express liberation. “Life on the Edge” suspends a sprig of plant on a knife blade that's held up by an abstracted hand.

In the center of the gallery, Meghan Bergman's barnacle sculptures are cities of nooks and crannies that invite you to peer inside. Curtis Bohn's “Twisted” is a gracefully spiraling steel and brass pedestal piece with delicately curved, leaf-like spirals reaching upward.

Luke DiBerardinis makes his gallery debut with three small, intriguing metal sculptures that come from his extensive work as a maker of restoration historic hardware.

The three metal sculptures by Kerry Rhodes are enigmatic and elegantly made, particularly “Self Portrait,” which gets a marvelously expressive face out of a gnarled bit of wood and two arcs of steel suggesting arms.

Jill Beech's wire sculpture “Woven” is a lighter-than-air strand of rounded shapes that's like an artistic spider web, or a sketched turned three-dimensional. Beech's “Ocean Form” is a swirling metal sculpture that has an intriguing texcture, and her “Earthenware Form 1” and “Earthenware Form 2” are stylized human figures with expressive faces.

Ellen Durkan's “Headpiece” is a fanciful creation that looks like it came from a “Star Wars” film, perhaps, and it's a triumph of material and design. Bruce Jarrell shows small furniture, displayed in unexpected ways, as well as some small wall pieces. There are several paintings by Judy Petersen, the most striking of which may be “Watering Hole,” capturing lions drinking from a pool, fixing the viewer with their gaze; and “Gentle Giant,” a shadowy closeup of an elephant's somber eye.

“Art of the Forge with a Touch of Earth” continues through May 26 at the Oxford Arts Alliance (30 S. Third St., Oxford). There is an artist talk and demonstration on April 28 at 2 p.m., and the show will be part of the Chester County Studio Tour on May 19 and 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A closing reception is scheduled May 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. Call 610-467-0301 or visit

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email

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