Sculpture is coming to 535 Gallery. The gallery’s upcoming exhibit, with work by Mary Beth Magyar and Laura Hallen, pairs two nature-minded artists for a display of ribcages, plants, fire, danger, and safety. The opening reception is on Saturday night. I got to chat with gallery owner Wendy Westlake about the upcoming exhibit; here’s an excerpt of our talk.
How did you get exposed to Mary Beth’s work?
Westlake: The first time I saw her work, I was looking at a building with Bucky Beeman and she had studio space up in the building up on 7th. It was kind of strange, because I heard about her and saw her work before I met her. What attracted me to her work was, first of all, the quality, it was excellent. She definitely had a unique perspective on these nests, those were the first drawings I had seen, and they were large scale and remarkable, in part because of the quality and in part because of the scale.
How many new pieces will be exhibited?
Westlake: That’s a question. She made a lot, I’m not sure how many we can fit in here. The sculptures will all be brand new. I don’t know about the drawings, if those are new or something in her inventory.
What is Mary Beth exploring with her work?
Westlake: Some of the structures that she’s made with the sculptures are things like nests, boats. Some of them look like cribs, rib cages, almost. She is exploring the concept of safety and refuge contrasted with danger and fire. She lit one of these enormous nests on fire and it makes this huge, like a bonfire. So she’s intentionally doing that. She’s kind of playing this idea of how we feel safe and sheltered against this concept of danger and fire and damage.
What can you say about Laura Hallen?
Westlake: She is a conservationist. She has a real interest in plant life and dormancy of plant life, so she’s got these really unique
pieces that are on plexiglass. This idea of these plants that can go dormant for decades and then they, if they get rain, they reflourish. She has a real natural aesthetic to her work, too. They’re going to look really phenomenal together.
Is this the first time you’ve featured sculptures?
Westlake: This will be our first sculptural exhibit. We have another sculpture artist scheduled for this summer. It’s finding the right sculptures, they have to fit through my door. I don’t have a huge door. They have to be able to fit and still have an impact.