By Tom Wachunas
EXHIBITION: Mechanic/Organic: The Meeting of Danny Saathoff and Annette Yoho Feltes, at Translations Gallery, 331 Cleveland Avenue NW, downtown Canton, THROUGH DECEMBER 1. Viewing hours are Noon to 9 pm Wednesdays, Noon to 5 pm Thursdays- Saturdays. www.translationsart.com www.dannysaathoff.com www.annettefeltes.com
“…There is something very special in being able to sublimate your unconscious, and something very painful in the access to it. But there is no escape from it, and no escape from access once it is given to you, once you are favored with it, whether you want it or not…” - artist Louise Bourgeois -
Both of the artists here, working in mixed media assemblage and/or sculpture, use their raw materials to achieve similarly intriguing cognitive as well as emotional resonances. The formal appearances of their works, however, are quite divergent.
Meticulously combining found metal hardware and aged wood, the elegant pieces by Danny Saathoff are physically precise constructions embedded with clock-like mechanics. Several of his kinetic assemblages are interactive, instructing viewers to activate their moving parts by winding a wheel or pulling on a cable. There’s a delightfully whimsical energy and the patina of a bygone era about them, suggestive of antique games or toys.
Weights shift, gears rotate, chains crawl, forms flutter or roll – sometimes against drawn/painted landscape imagery. Extrapolating “meaning” from these works is a matter of how much real time you’re willing to spend looking at the interconnected parts and letting them draw you inward to their temporal spirit. Indeed, the overarching sensibility is an allegorical one - a reflection on the subtleties of slow change in the passage of time. You could perhaps call them symbolic 3D diagrams of balanced dichotomies – nature and industry, chaos and order, predictability and randomness, movement and stillness.
Though clearly not as overtly kinetic as Saathoff’s, the new works here by Annette Yoho Feltes nonetheless seem to address ‘movement’ of a kind – in this case, flux within the human psyche and its concomitant emotional conditions. In varying combinations of stone, clay, wood, metal and found materials, her forms are at once familiar and ambiguous, accessible and obtuse, friendly and threatening, and often imbued with surreal humor. These are visceral and, I would guess, intensely self-reflective symbols of psychological and/or spiritual states – highly tactile celebrations of certainty as well as declarations of doubt.
It’s the complementary nature of these two bodies of work that makes this aptly titled show so deeply satisfying - Saathoff’s refined, intricate pictorial machines situated with Feltes’ free-form sensuality. Yet both artists’ intuitive methodologies transcend the solid physicality of their materials to impart uniquely ephemeral and poetic visions.
PHOTOS: Top, Mechanical Migration – Butterflies, By Danny Saathoff; Emerging by Annette Yoho Feltes