Call this extreme art _ work by eight artists whose attention to detail borders on the obsessive (and I mean that as a compliment) in a new show at Florida Craftsmen. Whether considering the flamboyant assemblages of David Bewley or the elegant paper sculptures of David McKirdy, viewers of "In Excess" will marvel at the intricacy.
These are crafts of a high order. Roddy Reed's small pinch pots shine like jewels, delicately wrought and elaborately painted and glazed. One is titled 5,698, the number of tiny circles he painted to create an optical illusion that looks too perfect to be done by hand and is a witty reference to painting by the numbers.
Fiber is a medium that lends itself to intricacy, and three artists working in that medium are represented. Erman's wall hangings are strips of fabric layered with such nuance as to look like paintings from a distance. The best of three is Familia, in which white clothes hang on a line that stretches into the distant horizon. Janet McIntyre's fiber pieces are like quilts. She dyes fabrics, then pieces them together as narratives full of mystery and multiple meaning. Depth Charge VI suggests a violent encounter in which shafts of wood slice through watery depths. Turn any of these works over and, much like the back side of a fine Oriental rug, appreciate the designs created by the stitching.
More whimsical but every bit as intensely crafted are the quilts of Carol Drummond; the constructions of Diane Banks that have the folksy feel of Tramp Art with an edge; and the beadwork of Eva Walsh, who weaves tiny beads into flat planes that look light enough to float and dense "bracelets" that would weigh down any wrist.
David Bewley dug deeply and broadly into his trove of found objects to create four assemblages that are heavy with metal and thought. They're all over the place in their references to mythology. Sphinx is built of, among other things, cast-iron Victorian ornaments, hundreds of bits and pieces of costume jewelry and decorative hardware, and drainage mesh from Home Depot. You gotta love eclecticism at such a fevered pitch.
David McKirdy works on paper but his pieces have a density that looks sculptural. He pierces surfaces with either pins or a wood burner fitted with tiny tips. On those that are burned, he mounts the liner paper behind the burned one to create a shadow image. Like Reed, he sometimes titles his work as a number, so 18,815 is the number of pin pricks in the ink-washed paper that curves like a giant nutmeg grater. The patterns created are complex; the overall effect is serene and beautiful.
This is a small show, like most at Florida Craftsmen, which has always been art rich and space poor. Most of the gallery space is devoted to a retail operation that sells the work of fine craft artists from throughout Florida. Now that they are buying the building, they will be able to reconfigure space for bigger-themed shows.