BY LENNIE BENNETT
Times Art Critic
Does food taste better on a ceramic instead of paper plate?
For some reason, yes.
I think it's true in general that if we care about and take pride in the way we live, life in general is better. Part of that is being creative and living within our means, of course. I, personally, would get indigestion every time I dined if some gorgeous new tableware also came with big credit card debt, for example.
That said, though, I often wonder why we're so quick to settle for the ordinary in our everyday surroundings. I especially wondered about that during a twirl through "Art Spaces," the current show at Mindy Solomon Gallery.
It's something different for Solomon, whose usual preference is for avant-garde contemporary ceramics. She has those still, but this time they're exhibited in combination with terrific furniture by Jo Milic and beautiful collages by Cosme Herrera.
Herrera's spare landscapes made from wood-grained or black contact paper are set on a white background that looks like a whiteout snowstorm, without horizon lines or other spatial reference points. You gaze at them as if looking out some window from a place definitely not Florida, yet on closer look, maybe Florida after all, or anywhere else that clears land indiscriminately for development. (That's the subtle message you'll get if you look long enough.)
There's also Milic's enormous rectangular table made of several kinds of wood with black steel supports, paired with broad wooden benches that could double as daybeds. It made me want to have a big party and squish everyone in.
And I would keep the centerpiece Solomon has perched in the center. It's a huge ceramic sculpture by David Hicks made from coiled clay intricately "woven" into symmetrical, circular grids and fired with a white ceramic wash. It vaguely resembles a space capsule just landed and definitely violates the centerpiece rule that dictates its height should not obstruct views across the table, but I don't care and I don't think my guests would, either. It's too cool.
The point of the show is to demonstrate that fine craft and art are not just for museum vitrines. They can be lived with, enjoyed.
If I had a foyer, I would also covet another of Hicks' "System" sculptures, this one even larger (still resembling a space capsule) but sitting upright and glazed in yellow. Not all of us have such accommodating spaces, so I also admire (more realistically for me) Raymond Gonzalez's smaller ceramic pods in funky shapes and colors that sometimes sprout poufs of monofilament. They're a guaranteed conversational gambit if only as an internal monologue.
If we're talking pragmatism, you could consider Minkyu Lee's gorgeous double-wall porcelain vessels as economizers. The bowl, for instance, is in the four figures, but the interior detailing is so exquisite, you would never want to fill it with fruit or flowers. Think of the money saved over the years!
I sound flippant and that isn't the tone I want to take here. The point is that if we're going to use and observe things every day over a lifetime, why not get the best we can afford? And the most unique?
Lennie Bennett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8293.