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Breathe In

Terri Jones' light show at David Lusk.

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"Inhale ... From the Corners," Terri Jones' exhibition at David Lusk Gallery, consists of three corroded sheets of metal, three sheets of vellum, two bottles, a black string, a piece of paraffin, a glass marble, and two long strips of gray felt. The show is so spare some viewers may wonder if the work has already come down. Those who stay long enough to explore Jones' delicate lines, remarkable economy of gesture, and translucent materials will find themselves immersed in a nearly seamless symphony of light and space.

This symphony's allegro movement occurs early in the morning when sunlight pours through plate-glass windows and bathes two large sheets of vellum titled Inhale. Hanging from the gallery's 20-foot-ceiling and swaying with the slightest breeze, Inhale's large expanses of glowing, undulating vellum (a material used for sacred texts and ancient manuscripts) produce a quality of light bordering on the sublime.

Jones attunes our senses to the subtlest of stimuli. Tiny, nearly invisible ovals fount up and flow down Inhale's surfaces two at a time, then single file, farther and farther apart, until they disappear like drops of water in a translucent, silky-smooth vellum sea.

A black string draped over steel rods protruding from the far back wall teems with metaphor and perceptual play. Two identical golden bottles are hidden behind the reception desk close to the floor. They hang from the ends of the string, pulling it taut and creating the outline of a three-sided square. The title of the work, Fair, and the hidden gold (the only touch of color in the show) suggest layered meaning and special significance.

While many of Jones' titles, such as Reach, Trace, Inhale, and Pause, are verbs that indicate subtle, incremental movement, Fair is a descriptor loaded with aesthetic and ethical evaluation regarding beauty, equity, and common decency. What holds the string structure in place, Jones seems to be saying, is the same delicate balance and careful handling that hold together any artistic composition, psyche, relationship, or community.

Detail of Fair - Part of Terri Jones' exhibit "Inhale...From the Corners" at David Lusk Gallery
  • Detail of Fair Part of Terri Jones' exhibit "Inhale...From the Corners" at David Lusk Gallery

From its starting point at the center of the gallery, Course, a long, narrow carpet of gray felt, crosses the floor diagonally and dead-ends beneath three sheets of metal titled Gift. Instead of forming the sides of one of Robert Morris' inert gray cubes or standing alone, powerful and iconic, like one of Richard Serra's steel slabs, three small, corroded metal squares are hinged like the panels of an altarpiece whose images and written doctrines vanished long ago. Corrosion has dissolved colors, words, shapes, even the gouges and scratches, transforming Gift into something veiled and haunting.

A slender eraser placed between two panels brings to mind the crayon drawing that Willem de Kooning allowed Robert Rauschenberg to obliterate: Forty erasers and one month's labor later, Rauschenberg reduced the drawing to a nearly blank sheet of paper.

Instead of erasing a work of art, Jones reduces David Lusk Gallery to a nearly blank canvas, a tabula rasa full of residual energy that begs to be shaped and reshaped. Two graphite lines titled Reach and Pause drawn directly on the left and back gallery walls are punctuated, respectively, with a fresh slab of paraffin and a cast glass ball. The marble-sized ball looks poised for action, ready to complete its roll down the wall and across the floor.

The 19-foot-long portal titled Trace, delicately drawn on vellum and nailed to the right wall just above the floor, allows us, like Alice, to go through the looking glass down the rabbit hole into an open, luminous vision of reality where we not only think about but experience Milan Kundera's "unbearable lightness of being," Buddhism's Sky Mind, and T.S. Eliot's transpersonal vision described in the final segment of Four Quartets:

"When the last of earth left to discover/Is that which was the beginning;/ ... Not known, because not looked for/But heard, half-heard, in the stillness/Between two waves of the sea./Quick now, here, now, always --/A condition of complete simplicity/(Costing not less than everything)." Through March 31st

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