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Art - Reviews
Tuesday, 15 July 2003 18:00
The great new show at the Quad City Arts Gallery in The District of Rock Island showcases a bit of a role reversal, with the woman being bold and the man being subtle. The show, running through August 8, features 27 wood turnings by Steve Sinner and 15 collages by Corrine Smith. Where Sinner is subtlety matching vase shapes to wood grain, Smith is boldly juxtaposing organic and geometric shapes of contrasting color and volume. Some of Sinner’s cups have a wood-lace trim, but there are no lacy decorations softening Smith’s exuberant shapes.

In past reviews we’ve said that Sinner’s work shows fine craftsmanship with a flawless fit and finish. His use of the classic vase shape lends an elegant air to his work. I like the addition of an additional element in A Tall Jar of Birds Eyes: google eyes. The bright colors of the eyes contrast nicely with the dark wood grain of the vase body.

In Sinner’s newer work, there are some pieces that have a greenish grain that echoes the celadon glazes used in stoneware from the Chinese Five Dynasties period. His vase shapes are also similar to the Chinese stoneware shapes. Because it is difficult to capture in a photograph the subtle elegance of matching the wood grain to the shape chosen, you should view the wood turnings in person.

Sinner’s prices have not escalated much. There are a few works commanding a four-figure price, but there are many priced in the hundreds. His work is a good value as he continues to expand his national reputation.

Sinner’s work has in recent years captured too many awards to list here, but highlights include being juried into the American Craft Council’s prestigious Baltimore show for 2002. He has been represented at SOFA Chicago 2001 and 2002 by del Mano Gallery, and five of his pieces appear on the back cover of the Winter 2002 edition of American Woodturner magazine.

Moving from Sinner’s subtle shapes and interweaving with wood grains to Smith’s bold compositions creates quite a visual shock. “I am interested in the play between form and space, and I often reverse the positive with the negative,” Smith writes. “Rendering the dimension of organic and geometric form is the underlying structure of my work. Consistently dealing with this notion, my forms are stylized and function as flat shapes instead of realistic representations. The more familiar I become with these forms, the more possibilities I discover.”

Smith’s work is successful in capturing the organic interplay with geometric shapes. In her Rick Series, there are some very commanding black shapes being flanked by softer shapes, in more pastel colors, either setting a boundary for, or dancing with, the black shapes. The collages are arresting yet pleasant to be around.

Although Smith says her paintings function as flat shapes, there is depth in her compositions caused by the way she models the paint and the choice of color in her backgrounds. The darker, bold shapes jump out, while the softer pastel colors recede. This creates an illusion of depth as well as the use of formal two-point perspective. In her statement, Smith says, “The use of opposites can create a dynamic quality revealing high contrast and tension. I am always striving for an aesthetic surprise. My inner feelings are a key element of my color and medium choice.”

Smith is also an accomplished local artist with many awards throughout the Midwest. Her work is very reasonably priced given the large size of the collages. Among Smith’s recent awards are being accepted in the Ninth Annual Five-State Juried Exhibition in Jasper, Indiana, and being accepted at the 26th Annual Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition in Rock Island.

This show highlights two accomplished artists, two very different media, two very different styles, yet one high standard of excellence in the work.
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