Los Angeles

Doug Edge

Riko Mizuno Gallery

Doug Edge’s objects are crafted slowly and make their public appearance equally slowly. This exhibition, the artist’s first show in some time, is sparsely populated, comprising only five objects and Edge’s photograph Self-Portrait of a Shave and a Haircut which, through the medium of a “4 poses, 25c” photo machine, documents his eight step transformation from long hair and beard to baldness rivalling a peeled egg.

The five objects themselves are agglomerations of Edge’s life experiences transferred to plastic. The smallest piece in the exhibition, a “Tru-temper” hammer reconstructed in plastic, has been fabricated to explode the constituent pieces of the hammer. Handle grip, shank, head, and so on, are all loose pieces, not unlike Jasper Johns’s sculpture and lithograph of a light bulb, socket and wire, seen in an exploded view. The hammer was an important object for Edge, who spent several years wielding one at Art Services, a Los Angeles frame making and crate building firm. Another piece in the exhibition Crate, Art Services is a crate, designed and built by Edge of clear plastic, and holding as its “contents” a cube of mirrors. It is complete even to the nail holes and stenciled across the front and back is the well-worn phrase “Work of Art—Handle with Care.”

The largest and most metaphoric piece in the exhibition is a Bus Bench, meticulously fabricated of hollow plastic parts, to precisely duplicate one of those omnipresent Los Angeles wood and concrete bus-stop benches with their ads for mortuary service or Kentucky Fried Chicken painted on the back. Subtitled Earth, Seed and Water are three basic ingredients of life. They are waiting on a bus bench., this piece, like Edge’s work generally, is a study in transubstantiation—the events of life and art mixed evenly together.

The hollow members of Edge’s bench are partially filled with seeds and dark granules of earth and water, producing a curiously striated organic quality to the three heavy slabs of the seat bottom and back. Most interestingly, the two uprights that support the seat and back, made of concrete in the original, are here only partially filled with dark earth, making the bench appear to disintegrate further. Curiously, the bench back, the most highly decorated part of the original, is partially filled with water, giving the impression that it has been left completely empty and transparent.

––Thomas H. Garver