While i2i Gallery transgresses an unusual identity crisis [photographer Gary Smith plans to change the name to VTrue Artspace] , the latest show offers sculptures twisted in sexual tension and sailboat festooning. Artist Jerry Monteith carves up objects that ply the unfamiliar with a wandering hand in Hilarious Wounds.
Heading the sculpture department at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Monteith takes injured tree limbs from his home state and modifies them to assume human anatomical presence. The result is an imbroglio of antlers, wooden, mossy orbs and gnarly tree limbs that elicit surprising elements from forest detritus.
Alberto Giacometti’s Suspended Ball [pictured above, right] softly lingers in sexual imagery that perpetuates a state of alertness and arousal. Using mimetic juxtapositions, Monteith places smoothed wooden elbows sheathed in coarse fur alongside a buffed, pink convexed curve. The slightest nudge would create a satisfying connection, yet Montieth enjoys this interstitial space. This slightly provocative playfulness keeps Monteith’s work sincerely quixotic.
The centerpiece of the show accosts viewers with a garish display of neon orange, wooden ovals of unripened coconut green and a mess of red, blue and black cross hatching with tape or colored vinyl wrapped around a forked piece of wood. It’s one of the few pieces I simply couldn’t unravel from its abstract intentions.
How many Spanish, Surrealist crutches can you find in this body of work? One of them morphs into a petite horse’s arse, only to become a rocking horse base. The clam beak creature pictured above breaks out of black pearls cloaked in sheer nylon. Exotic allusions to Indonesia and South Pacific gems give this critter an abundance of hidden potency. In a lighter, wall-mounted sculpture, verdant, intertwined wooden limbs end in carved hands that could have been clipped from the criminal mittens of a wayward Pinocchio. One goofy megaphone-mouthed giraffe dipped in deep yellow goads familiarity until it becomes just slightly ambiguous and impossible to define. Be on alert as you peruse the Hilarious Wounds, you might be gummed.