Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Yao, Reynolds and Easton at Chazan Gallery

The exhibit “Passengers” at Chazan Gallery at Wheeler School presents work by May Yao of Pawtucket, James Reynolds of Providence and Steve Easton of Providence.

Yao presents "Swallow’s Nest" (pictured above), an sedan chair elaborately decorated with scallop-patterned fabric, red curtains and braided tassels. Then things get odd. Four rats sit on the top corners staring at a pot on top. When you sit on the stool inside, two panels on the outside illuminate. One shows a woman in a sleek black pants suit holding a white penis that pokes out of her trousers. The other panel shows a woman in a more traditional silk blouse. But the blouse is pulled down to expose fake breasts. The women in the photos turn out to be Yao. The piece seems speak of her Chinese-American ancestry, and certainly something about gender, but its meanings remain elusive.

Reynolds bangs out shallow reliefs from tinplates. Images include sirens, lightning bolts, a little walking man, roses, an M-16 rifle. The prettier ones flirt with schmaltz. The designs are more striking when they have a bit of menace – like the gun or a pair of scaly snakes curled around a tree branch – that rhymes with the toughness of the metal.

Easton casts orange, yellow and lilac glass into little classical columns, portrait busts and chairs. There’s a fussiness to his work that combined with its diminutive scale can make his sculptures seem like just knickknacks. It helps somewhat that here he groups dozens of them together into a sort of shrine. The power of the piece is revealed when light shines in the windows behind them and the colored glass positively glows.

“Passengers” featuring May Yao, James Reynolds and Steve Easton, at Chazan Gallery at Wheeler School, 228 Angell St., Providence, Jan. 15 to Feb. 4, 2010.

Pictured from top to bottom: May Yao, "Swallow’s Nest"; James Reynolds, "While Wilbur Watched"; and Steve Easton, "Hero Worship."


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