Seeing spots

HAIRY EYEBALL: Bill Jenkins' tiny space transformation with "Lids and Dots," and Seth Koen's narwhal tribute wood sculptures

A nightmare to clean: Bill Jenkins' installation at Jancar Jones Gallery

Jancar Jones Gallery might be no larger than most gallery kitchens, but New York City-based artist Bill Jenkins has created the illusion of more space within it through very simple means. For his solo show "Lids and Dots," he irregularly spray painted black polka dots across the gallery's white walls, evoking Yayoi Kusama's spot-covered installations from the 1960s as well as Keith Haring's doodled-over interiors from two decades later.

The dots, especially when gazed at from the corner of one's eye, make the gallery's tiny dimensions seem more malleable. They curve corners rather than cut them, and their irregular placement suggests protrusion or indentation where there is actually only flatness.

This play off the given shape of a space is taken up in the exhibit's other titular component. Made from papier-mâché, sometimes studded with debris and small objects from his studio, Jenkins' coral-like "lids" sit atop a variety of everyday domestic vessels: a filing tray, a small plastic waste basket, a bowl — that have themselves been placed on white plinths.

The juxtaposition of Jenkins' handmade components with the mass-produced products they only haphazardly cover is funny and strange. But the absurd pairings also raise the more serious question — echoed in Jenkins' transformation of the exhibition space itself — of what happens when functionality is no longer a self-apparent quality of a thing but becomes something to be discovered in-process or, perhaps, to discard altogether.


Narwhals are the sort of animals that seem too strange to actually exist yet are that much more fantastic because they do. The same could be said of Seth Koen's wonderfully suggestive wood sculptures at Gregory Lind, currently on display in a show that takes its inspiration from the small Artic whale, and its singular spiraling horn (actually a tooth).

Koen carves and planes his pale maple and basswood pieces into smooth planks with soft, curved edges that typically bend 90 degrees at a certain point. Their placement on the walls or floor, along with their titles, suggest various marine mammals, or the sort of tools that ancient fisherman would use to hunt those very same creatures.

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