|the Late Show at Cornerstone Sonoma
||[Sep. 19th, 2009|05:50 pm]
Pedant Without a Cause
Shirley Watts' honeycomb patio installation is invisible by daylight. I literally walked past it four times without noticing. Only in twilight does it begin to make sense. Candles behind amber glass, concrete hexagons dripping with ochre encaustic, playful paper arcs mimicking the flight patterns of bees, and bee-friendly plantings throughout describe her intentions as a summertime bee advocate. Watts herself cuts a striking figure in shoulder-length hair, steel grey from the root with the final inch dipped in black, like white carnations with their stems in a jar of ink. I watched her light candles, one from another, to prepare for evening and to make her display the most lived-in and navigable.
John Greenlee's meadow is the meat of the show. Constructed entirely of his signature drought-tolerant grasses and anchored by an unfortunate sculpture from Stephen Glassman, its nature is diffuse and sprawling, with corners to round, hills to climb, and vistas to take in. In portions where the grass is high enough to surround and isolate, the meadow makes a child out of the viewer, recalling summers spent stretching curfews and bivouacs made with a knapsack and a comic book. Greenlee's concept that the right plants in the right place will do the heavy lifting is exemplified here as his meadow at Cornerstone is situated on a septic mound, which his grasses and sedges not only tolerate but actively clean and abate.