Architecture for One
Stephen Antonakos, Marcia Hafif, Si-Yeon Kim, Howard McCalebb, Richard Nonas, Atim Oton, Mia Westerlund Roosen
Five Myles, located just a few blocks from the Brooklyn Museum, on the “other side of the tracks,” is not just a gallery, but welcomes its neighbors and youth to experience and participate in art. Founded by Hanne Tierney, it is the studio left by her deceased son, Myles Tierney, who was a correspondent in Africa. At Five Myles, Tierney mentors young people, even acting as a liaison to the Brooklyn Museum. It also serves as Tierney’s studio, where she practices for her performances of Abstract Theater.
Tierney curated the Architecture for One show for emerging sculptors whose works have ties to Minimalism, and for sculptors and architects, who were directly connected with the development of Minimalist styles. As a participant in the SoHo scene during the late ’60s and ’70s, Tierney remembers when the word “space” became a blazing new concept in lofts that had been emptied of factories and were filling up with artists; and where large-scale gestures, as simple as laying an object in the center of a room, could achieve the pulsation of severe exuberance. Six of the seven artists here play with shape-making forms that reflect light in ways that heighten perception. Materials such as paper, concrete, and wood are preferred. Small-scale works often imply larger projects to come In contrast to the Minimalist program, yet inevitable to its stylistic lifespan, many works here offer more purely formal pleasures.
A chapel designed by Stephen Antonakos includes a square nave attached to a broad apse, integrating contemporary forms with the idea of “divine luminosity.” One imagines the vertical strips and pinpoints of neon light that are tossed across the exterior surfaces, would illuminate the interior with radiant band widths. Where symbols of the cross are discretely worked into the design, this purposeful structure has links to Mondrian and Barnett Newman. Antonakos’s designs have been built in Europe, and he is no stranger to implementing his ideas.
Richard Nonas, an anthropologist, comes close to Judd’s thinking in his striving for ordinariness, by reconceptualizing otherness without resorting to the frame. In his wall piece, “Sack,” Nonas pursues a singular unity of two. He takes a beam and cuts it into two pieces, crosswise, and stacks them so that their weathered fronts face the viewer. Into each “box” is then chiseled windows of differing proportions that modulate the relationship between intimacy and mass. The rough precision of the artist’s touch keeps one looking for unassuming traces of its making.
Minimalist rigor can be set aside, when one looks into Marcia Hafif’s hand stitched, roofless house. It is a whimsical, and almost childlike work, with living quarters segmented into clover leaf shapes. With its upturned edges, this quilted structure implies Thumbelina’s lily pad home, with a stone placed at an open door, and an empty tea cup left in a room, made more vivid by the discrepancy in scale and their placement within the fabrication.
Kim Si-yeon’s dramatically simple work titled “Nest” is so akin to the design of the Coliseum that one walks up and down its paper corridors as though in a setting for a tale by Italo Calvino. Cut paper modules faced with arches drawn in red felt tip pin, guide the eye throughout a delicately logical circumference that radiates around a core, dividing light from shade.
Mia Westerlund Roosen’s “Small Enclosures” are ceramic, concrete, and steel rooms with provocative openings, of disks or attached balls, which are pierced with light. Roosen packs a good deal of complexity into these square spaces, each with a single door. The sides are highly textured and are treated like skin that has been tattooed. The penetration of light through the thick, yet sliced walls, is a much more sensual effect than one would expect, and they become more riveting the longer one looks.
Howard McCalebb’s sculpture, “Container,” suggests a stasis between interiority and exteriority. Small, but massive, it is a red painted frame, bent outwards at its center, with two posts on each side. Atim Annette Oton has perhaps the most casual and vernacular piece, more of a sketch of many ideas, than a formal thought. With hand drawn maps and wig sections of various hair types set on a table, the connections are available, but could be brought through more clearly.
Rachel Youens is a painter, writer, and teacher who lives in Brooklyn.