Crepuscule for Wiley

William T. Wiley, ѻPaxed Wanel,” mixed media, 2000.

William T. Wiley, ѻPaxed Wanel,” mixed media, 2000.

Dunno about you, but a question that occurs to me whenever I walk into an art gallery is this: What would Jules Verne have imagined if he had had access to the music of Thelonious Monk?

Walk into b. sakata garo this month, and you’ll find a pretty close approximation. There are 77 assemblages by Marin County sculptor William T. Wiley on display, hanging from the ceiling or walls or perched on pedestals. This is accelerated funk of the highest order—wires twisted into elegant shapes somewhere between Picasso and Dr. Seuss and then wrapped around found objects, tying them together with other things fabricated from the language of dreams out of duct tape, masking tape, warped wood, castaway toys and melted-down vinyl albums—the latter bearing a label that reads, “Sabotage, Wiley/Henderson ©1991 Vaqnoid Records.” I suspect he had a few of these lying around, which he’s fashioned into a didgeridoo, a boot, and the bell of a homemade Victrola.

On some constructs, the tape covers a wire skeleton in layers, to make a dandy surface to cover with notes. Reading these notes is like peeking into a three-dimensional sketchbook. A trip into Wiley’s little universe on display at b. sakata can chew up a good afternoon. And it will be worth it.

Barry Sakata, who owns the gallery, calls Wiley the closest thing we have to Dada pioneer Marcel Duchamp. For artist Dave Davis, who was helping Sakata hang the show, Wiley is more like outré saxophonist Ornette Coleman. To this observer, it was more like what might happen if you locked up Junior with a box full of wires and doodads, piped in some of Monk’s Riverside sides and asked Junior to build a crystal radio that can pick up free association and extra-terrestrial humor. Like “goose igloo olive rabbit Uncle Sam wood yen,” neatly printed in a column on a piece of paper that hangs from a foot on “Leg With Found Poem,” Wiley’s visual musings may not be for everybody. But, if any of this looks interesting, it’s probably for you.