Saturday, April 23, 2005

Jenkins on Steinhilber
by Dan Steinhilber

Guest Review by Mark Jenkins

I work beside Numark Gallery and have been passing by this exhibit daily and so thought to contribute a brief piece about my reaction to it in this blog -- just for fun.

The first work that grabbed me in this show is a large canvas on the ground tilted against the wall with a small orange ball centered on its edge that seems to light up the wall behind it. The friend I was there with wondered if it was a light as I’m sure many will.

I won’t ruin the secret of it, but if you can jump as high as me -- I barely dunked a basketball some years ago, but that was some years ago -- you’ll see it too. It was this act -- perhaps a reward for my effort and for not caring if I looked a little bit like a fool -- that enabled me to begin to understand the way Steinhilber’s mind enjoys reality. He does so by creating or uncovering simplistic enigmas of the everyday item.

I remember in one of the Dune books Frank Herbert said something about a character The Changer: "He illuminates the banal in a way that terrifies."

While Steinhilber hardly terrifies he certainly illuminates the ordinary in a way that gets you thinking. The caterpillar made from forks and plates, the cardboard boxes that seem like a family of acrobats, the sorrowful kite riled by a fan like a chained canary, and a small tape metropolis with one tower deconstructing itself, all share this Changed spirit.

One other thing to mention or rather advise -- go to the show on a full stomach or you’ll find yourself seriously considering taking a bite out of the giant cheeto.

Kirkland on Steinhilber

JT's review can be read in DCist here.