At the top of the winter hill in the old mountain mining town made of buildings of warmed old wood and cold glass are wood sculptures and glass pieces created by David LeCheminant. Looking at his work upstairs in the Meyer Gallery, you feel you’re in a snow globe in February in a snow globe town: many of these wood sculptures, composed of many, many slender slats of wood, can make you think of repurposed skis, seen distantly; his glass pieces, though they are not white, are alternately frosted and clear, like snow, and ice. But, as Robert Frost said, fire also would suffice. It’s not just prosaic winter presented here; there’s also the sacred, and preservation of the sacred: real womb-to-tomb stuff.
The bursts of globular color here in LeCheminant’s glass pieces — so inescapably womb-like, vases upside-down — are as richly colored as Egyptian royal robes: shades of gold, brown, blue, a blued green, rose — single, throbbing, light-charged hues. Each piece seems to contain and guard the sacred soul of one color. Snow and ice? Poor, fading relatives.
When LeCheminant’s glass pieces are symmetrically or regularly shaped or patterned, they’re named as if machines (“Gear Ball,” “Gold Machine,” “Pink Machine”) and they suggest the beauty of old transistor radios, or sci-fi womb-machines a la Huxley’s Brave New World, or what made “Mew Two” in Pokemon.
The glass pieces with the most undersea womb-magic are driftingly irregular (“Arges Brown,” “Homage to Ed,” “Green Fizz” —LeCheminant is also title-talented), undersea-patterned, with moving-bubble ovoids and circlets of raised, clear, or frosty glass. They are translucent and transparent. Clear bits allow you to look through to the inside, then to outside, through their middles, and it feels like spying through secretive, colored diving helmets. Gazing at them or even around them, you almost sense underwater, wobbly hum around them, a soothing white noise, a pleasing remove from the normal world.
LeCheminant’s wood pieces “Raina,” “Beatrice,” “Beatrice Blue” and “Regina” have the enclosed, royal look of very carefully dressed women, or standing jewelry boxes, or sarcophagi; but they yell metronome too. You can almost hear demanding tick, imagine tensored, single spring of metal snapping left and right, and feel, amid a group of them, what a lone brother must feel like with several older sisters. One, “Beatrice Blue,” is queen, here, thanks to a slice of truly Egyptian blue paint running up and down the front of the sculpture, suggesting ceremonial garment firmly and formally, even permanently fastened.
Many of the wood pieces evoke sky and clouds, implying maleness: as in “Man Wearing Bow Tie,” “Everyman,” “Eli,” “Jet Stream,” and the concave, chest-thrown-out “Sky Triumphant.” These wood sculptures have slats forming ragged, tattered edges, like ties tied too often and gone to crazy fray. They lack the mystery or inviolable seclusion of the wood sculpture-collage pieces with female names, don’t have the diadem tops the pieces named for females are topped with — eight-cluster toppings of triangles forming cunning, radiant diadem of crown, or perfect-fitted level-slab tops like those cunning, perfectly fitted tops of flat-topped metronome cases. The male-named pieces, and pieces with sky names, in comparison. even look like ready bundles of jumbled slats for fence-making or for firewood.
Only one rough-topped piece has a feminine title: but it’s “Joan” — and all plain dull brown wood, no other colors. Wood was Joan of Arc’s doom, punishment for her powers of love and divination. Here, Joan and her pyre are joined, become one. Another piece, “Spitfire,” a rising piece of all red-colored wood by LeCheminant looks like a growing pile of red-hot flame, not the spirit of the British sports car or a woman who is a hot-tempered-temptress. Or is that because nearby is that plain-Jane brown wooden sculpture called Joan? Making this “Spitfire” LeCheminant’s name for the spit-scorn envious and murderous fire which ended poor Joan of Arc.
One piece by LeCheminant both encloses you and leads you to sky: “Watching, Waiting” looks like a boxy, beautiful, sturdy treehouse. Its architect has thought, it seems, of comfort. Horizontal slats on its sides look like slats for ventilation on warm days. But looking closely you see these slats are sealed perfectly to each other: there are no openings. Thicker, short, evenly spaced chunks of wood climb its sides, too: which must, you think, be for foothold; but no; you could only climb to a slightly slanted roof. There’s no way in; it’s completely enclosed. Mother and child reunion, tree turned to treehouse, “Waiting, Watching” is sealed, a container holding old dreams forever.
David LeCheminant, Meyer Gallery, Park City, Feb. 15 – Feb.23
Rebecca Pyle is a writer and an artist with work in dozens of art/literary journals, in the United States and also in journals (in the English language) in India and the United Kingdom and in France and Germany. She graduated from the university the Wizard of Oz adored, the University of Kansas, where she studied art and lit. See rebeccapyleartist.com.