San Francisco

Bryan Wilson, Ruth Horsting, Galerie de Tours Group

Crocker Art Gallery

Wilson, one of Gump’s regular exhibitors, is also an ornithologist, which gives his paintings of bird life an air of authenticity. But unlike such predecessors as Audubon, Wilson does not dwell upon detail. Nor does he merely catalog fact. With a minimum of means he depicts the life of birds and small animals in their natural habitat, depending upon characteristic gesture and shape for identification of species.

Wilson is a master of placement. He foregoes aerial and linear perspective in favor of the Oriental’s climbing perspective, and in doing so gives his forms a dramatic and pleasing relationship. He is at his best when using black-and-white and beige or green tones, thinly brushed out, yet makes unhesitating and telling use of undiluted, brilliant color in thick weals of pigment for floral subjects. His freshly-cut flowers in informal arrangement are abundantly alive.

Gesture, however, is his greatest strength. With it he entertains as well as restates some basic principles of survival, namely, adaptation to environment, and survival of the fitter.

Ruth Horsting’s eight recent bronzes, plus some earlier welded metal sculptures, make an exceptionally strong show. Using the lost wax method of casting, she has managed some exciting textures, especially those obtained with natural beeswax honeycomb. Her subject matter is organic in reference, for the most part, and those organs with vascular inlets and outlets she finds particularly fascinating. One suspects that such biological titles as Heterotroph, Parthenogenesis, and Little Oracle (stomach) are clues more than names.

Miss Horsting’s most significant work here is the huge robot figure, cast in bronze and titled Birthright. An aggregate of nuts, bolts and other mechanical findings, it is a hollow shell, oversized, square-headed, with shriveled penis and empty testes. She seemingly takes a very dim view of man’s destiny.

Although not especially weighty in content, the group show of paintings by Marline von Ruhs and Walter Paregoy, and sculptures by C. B. Johnson, shown through the courtesy of Galerie de Tours, are interesting and informative. Miss von Ruhs’ work deals mainly with Mexican genre. Her Boar’s Head is a startlingly beautiful study of pure savagery in splintered color.

––Elizabeth M. Polley