San Francisco

Alan Eaker

Berkeley Art Center

Joe Overstreet’s paintings were in front of the walls but not really on them, secured by ropes passed through grommets in the canvas. The kinetic sculpture of Fletcher Benton looked far better as an environment at the Berkeley Art Center than the same pieces had at the San Francisco Museum of Art. Most recently, a light-and-sculpture show entitled “Shadows,” by Alan Eaker, took advantage of the gallery’s many corners and added a few installed by the sculptor.

Eaker fabricates tubular objects in polyvinyl chloride plastic, fills them with air, sets them at the intersection of two walls, and arranges for lights to flash on and off so that a programmed series of shadows appears above and below the plastic balloon. Since the plastic is translucent and the lights are variable in intensity, the shadows display a progression in value enough to suggest modeling but not enough to be illusionistic. In accordance with the art-and-technology aspect of the show, the pieces were variously activated by pressing a button, stepping on a pedal, or breaking a light beam with one’s hand. I don’t know why they should not all have been turned on in the same way; one feels the sculptor may be showing off.

The result was a very pleasant environmental show, of which I felt that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts; the individual works benefited noticeably from the presence of the others and the shape of the gallery.

Jerome Tarshis