New Sculpture At Longhouse Reserve

No matter how many times we visit LongHouse Reserve, it always seems different. Granted, diverse flowers are in bloom during the Spring, and Summer brings lush foliage. Winter, of course, seems like another world. But we’re not talking about obvious physical diversity according to the season. Rather, we mean an entirely new experience each time we go, even if it’s always in the Spring, for example.

But what is this new experience like? It’s difficult to put into words without sounding cliché. Suffice it to say we are in an altered state, where time has no meaning and where the senses take over. Simply put, the sensation resembles a dream that many artists also experience when they are in the process of creating.

Seeing the sculptures at LongHouse Reserve turns the altered state into one of daydreaming, an act that is more conscious and allows this critic to intellectualize a bit.

The current show, “Diversities of Sculpture / Derivations From Nature,” curated by Bonnie Rychlak, is perfect for trying to figure out meanings without losing the setting’s sensibilities.

Jene Highstein’s “Flora Tower” is a hammered stainless steel column that derives its power from verticality as it aims toward the heavens. The abstract sculpture is composed of building blocks, which oddly enough recalls Sol Lewitt’s piece near by. While Lewitt’s work also aims toward the sky, it is not as vertical. But it is constructed of building blocks as well, which is the salient element. (Children love to climb on the piece as this critic witnessed.)

Daniel Wiener’s configurations offer a contradiction to those of Highstein’s; they are small and one hugs the ground. (The other two pieces are upright.) Their textures are also different: a play dough-like substance makes the forms pliable. A blob of glass is also present. And speaking of “blobs,” the sculpture reminds us of those monsters that gobbled victims up in some scary science fiction films. There’s also a resemblance to works by Lynda Benglis, which were poured on the floor.

A cast bronze figurative piece (“Idol”) by Judith Shea stands by the pond, seemingly guarding the grounds. The man is somber, his buttoned- up black coat evoking a sense of mystery and perhaps death. (The sculpture is related to the events of September 11, we are told, although we can’t find a direct connection.) No matter; the sculpture gets our attention. In fact, it stops us in our tracks.

Ronald Bladen’s “The X Garden,” a painted aluminum work, is a minimalist shape that also commands our attention. It appears to be a “commander” as well, like Shea’s “Idol,” keeping us from harm. Other pieces convey authority and vigilance as well, including Anne Chu’s “Maranao Man” (inspired by the inhabitants of a Philippines island) and Brian Gaman’s three globes constructed of cast iron and steel.


The show will be on view at East Hampton’s LongHouse Reserve (133 Hands Creek Road) until October 6. Call 631-329-3568.

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