Moonlight and vials
The Dovetail Gallery offers an impressive display of local art
When I dropped by Dovetail Design showroom recently to take in the current show featuring the wood, glass, and paper sculptural objects of Robert Herhusky and the paper and neon paintings of Susan Larsen, I was initially overwhelmed by the sheer amount of aesthetic information being presented in the compact gallery. But spending an hour or so wandering through the exhibit absorbing the atmosphere and examining the details of the pieces was ultimately a relaxing and satisfying experience.
Herhusky teaches in the Art Department at Chico State University. His “Spirit Vial” objects, crafted in part from wood salvaged from a stage that was torn down in the university’s Performing Arts Center, are fascinating and mysterious pieces. The spirit vial of the title refers to the little bubbles on a carpenter’s level that let you know if what you’re constructing is straight or askew, and each of the fairly large pieces contains at least one blown-glass bubble within a framework of Douglas fir.
My favorite was “Spirit Vial Vin two pieces,” which features a vertical Y-shaped frame of bent fir wood staves clasping a thick glass bubble, beside which was a rectangular fir frame holding a paper sketch echoing the object in pastel, charcoal and what looks like lines burnt into the paper with a hot wire. Taken as a whole, the piece presents a harmonious union of its elements.
Susan Larsen’s richly colorful, light-emitting molded paper and neon pieces provide a fitting complement to Herhusky’s heavily grounded earth tones. Larsen, a prolific Chico artist whose most recent exhibit was Kolorbar.com, a collaboration with her partner Pat Collentine at the Humanities Center Gallery on campus, uses bright color and complexly textured surfaces to create pieces that literally light up. Her “Moonlight” features three ascending yellow neon ovals rising through a particulate sky fading from indigo blue to soft gray and broken up by fragments of cobalt-blue glass, striped yellow-and-black paperclips and circles of minute text about the moon. Inset at the bottom is a map of the moon’s surface. It’s a beautiful piece that weaves whimsy, science, and chance into a pleasantly abstract whole.
If you get a chance, check out the Dovetail Gallery, located around the corner from Sounds by Dave at 173 East Third Ave. It’s like a little treasure trove or your grandma’s junk drawer, packed with objects of mystery and beauty awaiting your eyes.