Paul Meneses and Steve Novick update traditional and non-traditional approaches to fabrication in the July exhibit at Green Street. Meneses rolls, bends, cuts and welds sheets of steel stock into large, dynamic sculptures. Novick fabricates smaller scale sculptures by ingeniously recombining parts a different kind of stock - outdated hardware stock and parts of appliances and metal sold at thrift stores. The similarities between the minimal elegance and flawless transitions between forms that both of these artists achieve is remarkable, as is the contrast between the techniques used.
(L) Paul Meneses, "Untitled" (2001) fabricated mild steel 55" x 48" x 50"h , (R) Steve Novick, Installation view (2001)
Novick uses an additive process combining disparate flanges, escutcheons and housings into a new hybrid of an ambiguous type. Novick creates sculptures which look familiar, perched on shelves and often at the scale that references an appliance, but with no cord or function ( in the hardware store sense of the word ). The artist substitutes smooth, rounded volumes, gleaming with visual clarity in the place of a handy kitchen use. The transformation from functional object to aesthetic object is convincing and builds upon the residue of a previous design style and purpose that the individual chrome, rubber, felt and brass elements effortlessly transcend as a whole.
Steve Novick, "Appliance I, II and III" (2001) 5"x 5" x 18"h, 8" x 8" x 6'h, 5"x 5" x 18"h
Meneses welds plates of steel into massive rectilinear forms that are human scale and then implies that they can be manipulated by introducing a central, curved segment. A long horizontal slab is established with a narrowed neck which seems compressed until it has smoothly buckled downward. In another work this narrowed section bends into a half cylinder to allow the overall slab to fold in half. Once a viewer has established the similarities between the two works, which are identical except for their articulation at a central juncture, the transition between one and the other is effectively implied. The idea of bending or compressing these huge thick slabs seems, for a moment, quite possible.
Paul Meneses, (L) "Untitled" (2001) fabricated steel 100" x 24" x 12"h, (R) Paul Meneses, Untitled (2001) fabricated steel 57" x 24" x 19"h
Meneses lives in Jamaica Plain, is an extraordinarily talented welder and has a long history in metalsmithing, small metals and custom fabrication for commercial clients. Novick lives in Somerville, is a gifted writer, art critic and a teacher at the New England School of Art and Design. The strength of each artist's work is rooted in an understanding of the materials they are working with, but gracefully transcends a purely formal aesthetic by contradicting or manipulating our associations with these elements through variations in scale and placement.
- James Hull