San Francisco

John Moyer, Peter Shoemaker

Hollis Gallery

Moyer’s wood sculpture attempts the synthesis of at least three attitudes about sculpture. In the presumably earlier works, the artist involved himself with the direct carving of various woods. The surfaces of these pieces are highly finished and usually follow in form the natural organic growth of the chunk of wood. At this point Moyer, again, presumably, chose to introduce color into the sculpture. The problem of applied color in sculpture is a particularly knotty one due to various difficulties. The main difficulty is the insistence of any primary or secondary hue to assert itself as color alone, to the detriment of the complete three dimensional forms of the individual piece of sculpture.

Moyer’s solution to the problem of color is notably interesting if not totally successful. On four or five of the small wooden pieces the paint is applied to the butt end of the sculpture which has been smoothed by mechanical sawing. The angle of the cut has been carefully gauged, taking the greatest possible advantage of usually intense glossy paint applied after the sawing operation. Viewing the finished pieces from the front, the sculptural and painterly qualities work well. But from at least half of the possible viewing angles, there is no evidence of any color save the natural tone of the wood.

The next stage Moyer’s sculpture enters is far less tentative than the last and is further complicated by the addition of varied colors and constructivist techniques. The major work in the exhibit, Lollipop Tree, is the culmination of all the previously employed sculptural techniques, although direct carving has been minimized by the use of power equipment. Dowel pins connecting brightly painted pieces of wood at jaunty angles fill this piece with a solid, backslapping kind of humor which, in addition to the work’s sculptural merits, makes it a very exciting visual experience.

Peter Shoemaker’s pictures for a number of years have had a thin, carefully brushed paint surface which sometimes lapsed into an overly dry, understated quality not suited to oil paint. In the present group of works Shoemaker continues to explore the formal possibilities of aerial space. The topography depicted looks like northern France with its neat farmland precisely divided by hedgerows in an arbitrary geometric fashion. In three or four works Shoemaker has confronted the problem of the figure in a direct schematically drawn manner. This is a departure for him which could prove fruitful.

James Monte