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Review: Dream Documents

D. Eric Bookhardt on Raine Bedsole's new exhibit at Callan Contemporary


There always has been something strikingly elemental about Raine Bedsole's mixed-media works, an assortment of sculptural montages and other creations in which water often predominates even as air, earth and hints of fire are never far behind. In recent years, time has emerged as a fifth element, usually in the form of vintage texts or images rendered as graphic echoes of the past. Throw in Bedsole's more recent imagistic watercolors and it becomes clear her works in all media are ultimately vessels for navigating time and space, gossamer though they may be. In past exhibitions, her favorite subjects were boats and other vessels, including female forms, but this time around, her menu expands to include sea shells and marine life as well as shantylike structures that are no less spindly or ethereal than the boats that have been her signature creations for years.

  Her ghostly and gossamer Long Boat, a nearly 14-foot wall sculpture of wire, wood and steel with a tattered vellum skin extends her nautical tradition, as does Rain Boat Empty Tears, a canoelike vessel with a skin of old letters, correspondence punctuated with perforations that leak tear-shaped beams of light on to the wall when illuminated from above. These are accompanied by some watercolor-on-plaster paintings of sea shells, corals and octopi in shades of tidal-pool blue on sepia that subtly conjure the ambience of poems from past ages when the sea was the ultimate mystery of mysteries. Her hutlike structures are smaller but no less otherworldly. Floating House 1 (pictured) is barely there — part tree house and part shanty. It and similar works suggest the makeshift structures of displaced nature spirits who were once at home in swamps and forests but have lately joined the ranks of the dispersed as global changes create new waves of nomads in search of other lands and abodes where they might once again feel at home. — D. ERIC BOOKHARDT

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