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Chester County Press

Artists work magic with metal at Arts Alliance

03/20/2017 10:26AM ● By J. Chambless

'Vulcan Punk,' by William Spiker.

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

The sculpture show that opened last weekend at the Oxford Arts Alliance aims high and succeeds, with richly rewarding work that will spark your imagination and stretch what you thought were the limitations of metal as an artistic medium.

Every part of “Reconstructed Materials,” which continues through April 15, has merit – and several pieces are exceptional achievements.

The monumental “No Hoof, No Horse,” by Rob Sigafoos, manages to encapsulate the grace and power of the equine shape with a dramatic curve of steel, an empty bridle and a perfect recreation of leather in steel. Smaller but equally dramatic is his “Planting Time,” in which steel tendrils wrap around a stone, with one tiny shoot splitting the rock by poking into a crevice. Sigafoos also works magic with “Balance,” which has a steel chain and angled spike base seeming to hold a boulder in mid-air.

Katee Boyle's richly nuanced “Stone” – a crown-like object sitting on a copper scroll imprinted with indistinct text – packs a novel's worth of subtext. Her “Noble” is an otherworldly crown atop three roughly laced pillows, and her “What Remains” is a metal bow wall piece that's wrinkled, scorched and scuffed – a well-worn memento of a once-happy time.

Lele Galer's “Guardian” is a totem-like figure wearing fragmented armor, battered but noble. Her “Guardian Angel” tabletop piece is more literal, but still packs a dramatic punch with the figure's fluttering metal garment.

Stan Smokler's “Caged Botany” isn't just a technical triumph of entwined circles of steel, but it makes a wry point about trying to cage plants, as one tendril pokes out above the suggested limitations of the box it's in. Smokler's “Landscape” is a wall piece that's rich with texture and circular shapes, while his untitled pedestal piece is a menacing triangle of lethal-looking spikes jutting out in all directions.

Equally notable is Joe Charma's “Broken Dreams,” a wheel that's been severed and is twisting away from the viewer; and Jeffrey Bell's “Fragile Earth,” which places a fractured planet atop a series of gears, providing an interior view of a melted landscape and delicately painted clouds on the inside of the sphere. Bell also shows a sinuous octopus balanced on a shard of sea floor in “Guardian,” and his huge floor piece, “3 Moons,” abstracts its shapes to dramatic effect.

William Spiker's “Big Horn” is a gigantic horned skull made up of hundreds of tiny metal rectangles, and his “Vulcan Punk” is a fanciful boat with all kinds of details rendered in welded steel.

In the front windows of the gallery, you'll be lured in by Katee Boyle's wonderful child-size dress rendered in forged steel that has an ancient patina. Lisa Fedon's “Inside Out” is a huge column of steel topped with a house, from which descends a long, curling slide to a tunnel below. Also in the window, William Spiker's “Blue Hen” is a dazzling, multi-feathered bird with an arresting gaze.

Also notable are Karen Delaney's small tower sculptures. They're like buildings from a Dr. Seuss book, overlooking small globes that provide colorful counterpoints and don't give up their secrets easily.

“Reconstructed Materials” continues at the Oxford Arts Alliance (38 S. Third St., Oxford) through April 15. Gallery hours are Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with extended hours on Fridays until 8 p.m. Visit for more information.

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email [email protected].