Advertisement
  1. Visual Arts

Labauvie sculpture show opens at HCC Dale Mabry's Gallery 221

The sculpture Flying Buttress and the large-scale drawing Magnetic Fields by Dominique Labauvie are at Gallery 221 at Hillsborough Community College’s Dale Mabry campus.

Photographs 
by Edward Linsmier
Published Aug. 13, 2013

Something doesn't have to be big to make an impact. Such is the case with "Wire. Paper. Steel," a new exhibition opening Monday at Gallery 221 on the Dale Mabry campus of Hillsborough Community College.

Dominique Labauvie has an international reputation, showing in museums and major galleries, including our own Tampa Museum of Art. His spare sculptures are often (and best) accompanied by his lyrical drawings or prints he creates with his wife, Erika Greenberg-Schneider, an acclaimed master printer who owns the atelier Bleu Acier.

Gallery 221 is a small space next to the library, not a high-profile venue, and director Katherine Gibson said she was honestly surprised when Labauvie agreed to the show. He said he liked the feel of the space and that it was on a small college campus with lots of students.

She didn't crowd the room. A single free-standing sculpture is centered in the middle of the room, bracketed by two large drawings pinned to opposite walls.

Labauvie's art explores occupation, how it defines and changes a space through void and volume, and, yes, it is unapologetically cerebral. It asks for your time, and fortunately, the gallery has benches that allow you to settle in and contemplate.

The sculpture, while abstract, has a grounded context. It's made from discarded pieces of the historic Columbus Drive Bridge in Tampa, which has been renovated. Built in the 1920s, it was one of only a handful of swing bridges in Florida, pivoting horizontally to allow tall boats to pass through rather than using the more common drawbridge method. Much of the original metal, manufactured by Carnegie Steel, was replaced, and Labauvie was able to obtain some of the old parts.

He typically uses salvaged metal, but the specific provenance of this metal appealed to him. The sculpture isn't about the bridge. It's about the bridge's material that for decades was used for a pragmatic and hard-working purpose, now repurposed and allowed to relax into its new role as a piece of art.

Labauvie uses metaphors and allusions when describing his art, and the sculptures do have suggestive elements. The vertical supports, made from a heavy construction material, are as near invisible as possible, delicate, precarious arms lifting and balancing the ring of riveted metal. They seem to sway and, if you walk through or around the sculpture, you can get a small kinetic response from it.

The black and white drawings are done in charcoal and white pastels tinged with blue and yellow for contrast. White rectangles and trapezoids connected by black diamonds float and tumble, levitate or descend depending on how you look at them.

The big surprise of this show is revealed when you walk to the gallery windows, which are blocked by three free-standing panels that are blank on the sides facing the gallery. Walk around to the sides facing the windows and you'll find a collection of tiny wire sculptures, also by Labauvie. I have been to many of his shows and have visited his studio often but have never seen them because he considers them a private pastime.

They're fresh, whimsical and remind me of Alexander Calder's work, without the color. To Labauvie, they are the equivalent of doodles, made when he's relaxing and not thinking about much of anything. But he's usually drinking a glass of Champagne, because each is made from the wire that's wrapped around the bubbly's cork. More than 10 years ago, he began playing with the wire each time he uncorked a bottle and thus began this collection, which numbers more than 40. They aren't as serious as his "real" art, but they have great charm.

Lennie Bennett can be reached at lbennett@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8293.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Mural on the side of the Amsterdam Bar, Central Avenue, St. Petersburg. “SHINE.” The wall was completed with the help of students from the Bloom Gallery. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The roster for October’s festival includes a mix of international, national and local artists
  2. St. Petersburg based Ink Werkz Crew created this mural at 1610 Central Avenue for the first SHINE mural festival. Painted in late 2015, a Chase Bank branch was built on the parking lot in front of it in 2018. The artists Reid Jenkins, Scott Hillis and Sovoth Chan were never told that it would be covered. Jenkins found out from his then five-year-old daughter. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    As the city grows and empty lots become fewer, murals of the recent past risk being hidden from view.
  3. Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960-1988), Untitled (Word on Wood), 1985. Acrylic and oil stick on wood fence slats. 90 x 72 inches. Private collection. Photographer: Jeremy Scott. © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Courtesy of Jeremy Scott
    Here’s how to get free admission and discounts at nearly 20 local institutions.
  4. "Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle," the new light projection show at Universal Orlando, will open this weekend, running on select nights through Nov. 15. Universal Orlando
    Death Eaters, Voldemort and other creepy creatures from the world of Harry Potter star in the nighttime display.
  5. "Untitled (Word on Wood)" by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The piece is one of the iconic artist's masterpieces on display at Tampa Museum of Art. Courtesy of Jeremy Scott
    In addition to two masterworks from Jean-Michel Basquiat, TMA also opens exhibitions of Haitian flags and works by artist Purvis Young.
  6. From left: Tim Curry as Frank N. Furter, Barry Bostwick as Brad Majors and Susan Sarandon as Janet Weiss in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." 20th Century Fox
    The popular ‘Last Podcast on the Left’ and Barry Bostwick from ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ are new to A Nightmare on Franklin Street.
  7. Disney's Aladdin comes to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts as part of the 2019-2020 Broadway series. Courtesy of Deen van Meer.
    From augmented reality at the Dalí to a boatload of Beethoven at the Florida Orchestra, it’s shaping up as another busy season in the arts.
  8. Country star Tim McGraw, shown here in 2012 when he brought his "Brothers of the Sun" tour to Tampa, will perform a free concert before the Bucs home opener and also at halftime on Sunday in Raymond James Stadium. ANDY JONES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Tim McGraw performs a free concert before the Bucs home opener, the Tampa Boat Show and a range of comedians are on stages this week.
  9. The James Museum in St. Petersburg will display Sayaka Kajita Ganz’s 16-foot long sculpture “Nanami” as part of its “Environmental Impact” exhibition, opening on Saturday. [Courtesy of Sayaka Kajita Ganz]
  10. Camille Izumi’s painting “Sea Me Now” is part of “Good Vibrations II” at the Leslie Curran Gallery in St. Petersburg. The exhibit runs through Aug. 31. [Courtesy of Leslie Curran Gallery]
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement