5/7/10 2:14 PM
Abstract art is all too rarely witty. Fortunately many, if not all, of Howard Schroeder’s meticulously turned wood sculptures partake of this quality. Locating it takes some work, however. This is wit so subtle I nearly missed it myself—so distracted was I by the more polished, overt aspects of pieces like “Kosmos” and “Symphony #2: The Red Tape,” with their sinuous twists and turns deftly carved from single blocks of dense, richly colored wood. These are sculptures in the round and then some, and it’s the “then some” where part of their surprise is located, for what Schroeder has done is set these pieces on bases whose shape matches the sculptures’ silhouettes seen from above. On guard, viewer who thinks sculpture in the round involves only a lateral perspective! On guard, viewer who stops there, for there is more wit to find! Schroeder also has a droll way with titles, naming one winningly peculiar work “Enchanted Something.” And finally, there is a last somewhat ironic twist, perhaps unintended by the artist himself, devoted as he clearly is to abstraction. Namely that his most charming work is not an abstract but a figural shape, albeit a highly stylized one, a pelican reduced down to a double curve, with two-toned wood smartly distinguishing wing from body and a negative space standing in for the bird’s long beak.