Gary Berg, Dream (2003), cast concrete and burnt wood
[AT.31, Seattle, WA, Sep 3-28, 2003]
Seattle artist Gary Berg has a background in glass-blowing and a strong interest in earthworks. For this new series, he created cast concrete and wood assemblages then burned them. In doing so, he transformed the literal objects into visual sensations, while still preserving the physical strength of the original cast cement forms.
The sculptures feel archaic, like ancient relics. One has the sense they have endured a natural disaster. While the concrete fragments are only lightly scorched, they are juxtaposed with charred books and pieces of wood that remind us of the frailty and impermanence of the man-made environment. The pages seem, metaphorically speaking, like pieces of human life.
By emphasis, single words remain like offerings, strong and bold, in the singed cement. Words like Pure and Dream are simple yet hopeful. They soften the harshness of the damage and erosion by fire. There is an elegant simplicity and an overall sense of stoic beauty in Bergs work. The ignited sculptures evoke both the rigid and the fleeting. Much is left to the imagination in these works that bridge loss and promise.
© Allyn Cantor