DMA Show Offers a New Look at a Popular Local Artist Print
Art - Reviews
Tuesday, 12 November 2002 18:00
If you like Isabel Bloom’s whimsical cast-concrete figurines and want to learn a bit more about the artist, you’ll enjoy this exhibit at the Davenport Museum of Art, which collects 25 of the sculptor’s early works, including a few unfinished ones showing the armature supporting the concrete overlay. Her reputation as an artist is more regional than national, but the very successful company that bears her name is testament to the popularity of her sculptures.

There are some limitations that a concrete-based medium imposes on an artist. This exhibit allows us to contrast Bloom’s bronze sculpture with her concrete work. In her bronze self-portrait, the angles and planes of her face are quite realistic. In her concrete sculptures, the figures are rounded, stylized, within the confines of shapes concrete can be pushed into. The concrete sculptures also have incised lines so that a contrasting color can be applied, giving the illusion of a patina. The bronze sculpture is developing its patina more naturally.

One of Isabel Bloom’s sculptures in the show, Doctor & Child, appears to be a concrete sculpture that is more of an armature build-up rather than a cast sculpture. The composition is a bit too suggestive to be usable in today’s world of concern over child abuse, but it does show a departure from the rounded shapes found in her cast sculptures. Child & Cat is a more familiar composition for those who collect the figurines sold in gift stores.

The exhibit and the artist do not pretend to be more than they are, and one of Bloom’s quotations illustrates her philosophy on life: “I have lived a long life never looking back; I was always pushing forward.”

Bloom was an artist who was able to make a living from her art in her lifetime in a market that did not include New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or Santa Fe, New Mexico. That is an accomplishment for which she should be honored, and this show at the Davenport Museum of Art does so.
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