Seattle-based sculptor Dan Webb's problem is that he can make anything with his hands. He could build a perfect monument, but he doesn't believe in perfect monuments. So he builds things that warp and disintegrate, that survive with compromises.
Twice he's been on the Stranger Genius Award shortlist (2003 and 2007) and his new installation Little Cuts immediately became a part of the regional canon when it was first shown last December. It's up now—just until December 21—at Western Bridge, in a terrific group show with work by Martin Creed, Jordan Wolfson, Anthony McCall, Jeppe Hein, Rachel Harrison, Alex Schweder, Neil Goldberg, Julia Schmidt, and Roger Hiorns. (Northwest readers: Miss it at risk of serious regret.)
Little Cuts (pictured above, at right) is the process of Webb carving a man's head out of a block of wood. In a series of 40 photographs, the man's face emerges from the wood and then grows old; his flesh decomposes leaving only his skull, and then even his bones wither to dust. The dust—all the sawdust from the carving—is encased in a Plexiglas box, set on a pedestal in the center of the room, with the 40 photographs hung on the walls around it.
Next month, Webb has a solo show at Acuna Hansen Gallery in LA. I caught up with Webb in his unheated studio for a peek at the work that will be in that show.
The show is titled Dandelion, in a play on the artist's name (though the down-to-earth sculptor is neither really dandy nor lion), and on his most common theme through the years, survival in sculpture. At left is his floor installation, Dandelion in America. In it, a weed made from the pages of old issues of art magazines like Art in America sprouts up from a pile of the magazines, as if in homage to all the now-forgotten names inside the periodicals.
At right, Rubber Dandelion is a cast-rubber dandelion held up by a bronze wire armature. It will be set on the floor on a platform with springs. Whenever anyone walks near it, the rubber will wobble, invoking the tough malleability of weeds but also, thanks to the wire maze, the appearance of limbs gone slack and on life support.
Listen to the artist talk about these and other dandelions, made of bronze, paper, and Sculpy—and about the chopped-off finger of Galileo, on this week's In/Visible.