Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Beverly Penn

Maelstrom - 9' x9' x 6x' - bronze 201

A repost of my art review at back in November 2011.

McMurtrey Gallery has a positively beautiful exhibition this month with Beverly Penn displaying her cast metal sculptures of flowers, vines, and leaves. McMurtrey Gallery is a small intimate space and some of Penn's work nearly swallows the walls. Then others are tiny and dainty, displayed in just the right spaces to highlight each work. It was like the gallery space and Penn's work was designed together to complement one another.

The show titled, "Still Nature" is Beverly Penn's attempt to not only capture nature, but reshape it. The large pieces used geometry as the guiding principle. You would first see a large circle or oval, when inside you would start to see swirls that resembled the Golden Mean. Each vine had details of leaves and flowers. The metal was every evident, but when I looked at images of the work on the website I could not have possibly understood the complexity, until I saw it in person. I enjoyed the fact that the work hung slightly off the wall, so a wonderful shadow played on the wall.

Beverly Penn’s smaller work is attempting to give a completely different approach to the same idea. The large pieces are shaped and arranged, but the smaller work seems to reflect a more scientific categorizing method that appeals to a more intellectual and conceptual side than just a pure aesthetic investigation. I love how each plant is pinned to a rectangular object or metal piping, like you might see in a back room museum collection. Some work even has bar codes to drive the categorizing idea home. I think the pieces with piping and bar codes are constructed to feel more random and almost contradict the scientific organization that the work implies. Strangely, I came away from the show feeling that any part of the piece was about to fall off and break. Like the plants were of organic matter and this was a temporary exhibition. The illusion is further strengthened by the painted surface. Personally, I was more attracted to the smaller pieces for their intellectual quandary, but the large pieces are what got me excited to visit the gallery in the first place. McMurtrey Gallery is always a must stop when I am in Houston, but this show made the visit all that more enticing. See Beverly Penn’s metal works, which are up until November 23rd.

See more images at

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