San Francisco

Print-Sculpture Annual

Richmond Art Center

This show is so attractively mounted that its insipid contents are all but obscured. Both the sculpture and the prints display a higher standard of technical proficiency than imaginative insight.

Fred Sauls shows an unusually fine blue and black welded metal structure, done while he was a student at the University of California at Berkeley. “Crazy John” has a well-considered point of view and is balanced and controlled in execution, an approach he seems to have since put aside.

Robert McClean’s wooden “sailing machine” is much better than those in his recent Berkeley Gallery show. His work has a humorous edge which seems to require a certain kind of clarity. This big trapezoid, surmounted by various ambiguous nautical paraphernalia has a brisk comical tone that works very well.

Mel Henderson is currently constructing stark and enigmatic figures from leather jackets stretched over frames. The piece in this show is a hermaphroditic personage, titled “Puberty.” Its immediate effect is dramatic, but, as sculpture, this effect is a bit too easily achieved.

Juror Don Haskin’s sculpture award to Erik Gronborg made it Gronborg Month throughout the world, as the sculptor had concurrently won the Award of the City of Paris at the Paris Biennale. It is difficult to see what it is about this young man’s work that jurors large and small seem to find so impressive.

The print section, on the whole, is an uninteresting lot. Among those few who show prints in which content, not manual dexterity predominates are Dennis Beall, John Richards, Charles Gill and Robert Bechtle. Beall’s sinuous line etching of an art nouveau head, isolated on a bare sheet of paper is perhaps a little too elegant, but attractive nevertheless. John Richards shows a curious line-up of bottles which, on closer inspection turn out not really to be bottles at all. Robert Bechtle (who juried the print section) exhibits a color lithograph almost swamped by two black square shapes. Wesley Chamberlin was given a Richmond Art Center Award for an absolutely banal and academic still life with Catholic liturgical overtones. Charles Gill was also awarded, but his lithograph was a good piece of work.

Finally, John Richards must be commended for once again doing a magnificent job in mounting this show. His consistent good taste is most evident when he can turn even a weak exhibition at this art center into a visual pleasure.

Joanna C. Magloff