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September 11, 2007

PYRO gets mythical with ‘Immortals’

“Adam and Eve” by Ann Stewart Anderson.Collaboration among artists is a treat for both the artists and the viewers. Shared themes among the ceramic sculpture of John McCarthy, the mixed media drawings of Ann Stewart Anderson and the jewelry of Mark Needham have made intriguing shared relationships in their PYRO Gallery exhibition “Immortals: Images & Icons.”Relationships is just one of the themes explored in the show. The title refers to the larger-than-life religious, mythical and historical entities, many shown as dual portraits, featured in the group’s work. Every culture, past and present, has its myths, giving us great characters like the Native American Corn Mother and Red Horn, Egyptian Isis and Osiris, and Greek Zeus and Hera. As McCarthy says in the press release, “Myths are the stories of the human race that we dream onwards. In fact, the most we can do, according to Jung, is ‘to dream onwards and to give it modern dress.’”The group occasionally worked up the same story, such as the biblical relationship of Adam and Eve, which can be read progressively by starting with the “Tree of Knowledge” necklace by Needham, with a ceramic panel by McCarthy. Needham has eliminated the central characters to concentrate on the tree itself. Anderson’s “Adam and Eve” barely lets us peek into their paradise. They are shown with their backs to us, almost completely covered by the tree’s leaves (with the apple ominously placed). McCarthy’s take on “Adam and Eve” completes the story, as he shows the two intertwined as Eve offers the apple to Adam, the snake precariously curled overhead. “Red Horn and the Corn Mother” by John McCarthy.The solitary-themed works are outstanding as well. Jewelry designed by Needham is actually wearable sculpture. His “River Stones and Medallion” is based on the Chinese principle of Suiseki (sui=water, seki=stone) of unaltered, naturally formed stones, such as those in rivers and on beaches. Here he wraps his found river stones in a see-through tube of wire mesh, which supports a blue glass and aluminum medallion. The result is an understated, striking piece of wearable art. Anderson continues her study of mythical figures, but with a twist; instead of powerful females, she has drawn powerful couples. Her “Mars and Venus” is the result of stirring together the Roman god of war (dressed in a desert military uniform) and goddess of love with the Iraq war.McCarthy’s “Christ’s Cross” is a highlight of the show. The overall “T” shape of the sculpture suggests the cross, while the loosely formed hollow structure represents the body, resulting in a combination of cross and body. By uniting Jesus’ physical body with his instrument of death, it gives new meaning to the religious phrase “the body of Christ.”“Tree of Knowledge” by Mark Needham.An additional show is in PYRO’s Garden Gallery, featuring the art of three new members. Beads turn to sculpture in the hands of Collis Marshall. Some of her mixed media designs, such as “Serpent with Egg,” are made of tiny antique glass beads with wood for shape and support. Her pieces command admiration for the hours of labor-intensive work required for even the smallest object.Shawn Marshall specializes in humanoid structures composed of everyday architectural and landscaping items such as gravel, plaster and steel wire. Her sculptures are vaguely feminine, as seen in “Fertile,” which can trace its lineage back to the exaggerated proportions of the prehistoric sculpture “Venus of Willendorf.”You enter an eerie, monochromatic world when viewing John Fitzgerald’s digital infrared inkjet panorama photographs. The rural Kentucky shown in “Church and Cemetery” consists of a small white clapboard church surrounded by white and tan headstones. The infrared technique renders the trees soft white against a dramatic, white-streaked, inky-blue sky. Very cool.‘Immortals: Images & Icons’Through Sept. 29PYRO Gallery 624 W. Main St.587-0106www.pyrogallery.comFree; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (Thu.-Sat.)