Critics’ Picks

View of “+,” 2011.

View of “+,” 2011.


Andy Coolquitt

Locust Projects
3852 North Miami Avenue
September 10–October 15, 2011

Anyone who came of age in an American suburb has a particular understanding of those sites of delinquency that are curiously adjacent to places of industry and growth: banks of canals, strip mall loading docks, construction sites after dark. These are some of the sites that inspire the Austin, Texas–based artist Andy Coolquitt. After collecting detritus from these liminal areas in cities such as Miami, Baltimore, and Portland, Oregon, and then slightly altering his finds, Coolquitt presents the resulting works in a way that might be best described as sculpture in an abandoned field.

For his current exhibition, the dirty Minimalist has embarked on the largest sculpture he has made in the past ten years: +, 2011. The basis of the show is a large X made of four sheets of Plexiglas. These panels divide the gallery into four quadrants, within which Coolquitt has assembled his dowry of scavenged items: crack pipes, broken mops, brown-bagged malt liquor, water-damaged paperbacks (titles include Michael Crichton’s Timeline and Stephen Davis’s Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga). The items, long having sacrificed use-value to disrepair, take on a subcultural mysticism. A pillar of old buckets, a staff of glued cigarette lighters, and even the division of the room into four sections all suggest a paganism of teenage Satanists.

Each section appears as a composition in and of itself, but then one begins to see formal echoes through the Plexiglas, which at once reflects the objects in the viewer’s quadrant and reveals similar arrangements in the other three. This structural transparency at once recalls Duchamp’s Large Glass and Dan Graham’s architectural pavilions, while the show also channels the monumentality and industry of Richard Serra’s large-scale sheet metal sculptures. Standing near the Plexiglas is also a daunting task once one notices that it’s propped up by old broomsticks. This precariousness engages the body not with Serra’s promise of sublime annihilation but with the threat of an industrial accident resulting in boredom and workers’ comp, a distinctly suburban disorder.