ART IN REVIEW
Inner and Outer Space ... the Visionary Landscapes of Josh Simpson, Jane Sauer Gallery, 652 Canyon Road, 995-8513; through April 5
Glass is a fluid, mercurial, and volatile substance. Not unlike clay, it relies on an element of chance in its transformation from raw substance to work of art. Some glass artists accentuate these characteristics of glass in their work, and Josh Simpson is one of them. Jane Sauer Gallery presents several of his functional and sculptural works in a show called Inner and
Outer Space ... the Visionary Landscapes of Josh Simpson. This collection of works takes traditional forms — platters, vases, bowls, and globes — and presents them as microcosms of terrestrial and cosmic worlds.
Pieces from Simpson’s Corona Platter series are on view, each bearing vibrant swirling colors like the volatile atmosphere of a distant gas giant.
Blue New Mexico Corona Platter stands out among them for the richness of its blue hue as well as for the depth of its appearance. Simpson’s signature floats within it like a graceful serpent drifting through blue waters, its shadow glimpsed just below. The pieces in his Inhabited Vases series also have depth, accentuated by a layering technique the artist uses in order to create the illusion of vast landscapes contained within vessel forms.
All of Simpson’s work is blown glass, even the globes that appear to draw inspiration from the look of our home planet as seen from space.
Megaplanet #9.2.07 is one such globe. It is actually a series of concentric marble-like forms that provide a sense of layered atmospheres surrounding a world of teeming life.
In Simpson’s Tektite Portal series, the artists takes the idea of a selfcontained landscape further by placing a vision of organic forms within a blue, watery environment inside a geodelike structure: an entire ocean contained within a small rock. Another series of tektite sculptures included in the show seems to draw inspiration from the beauty of mother-of-pearl oyster shells, but the pieces are equally suggestive of alien life forms transported in meteorites. The tektite sculptures hardly resemble blown glass, and it probably wouldn’t be your first guess as to their medium.
Many of the objects in Inner and Outer Space rest on mirrored surfaces that allow you to see the contrasts between their interior and exterior surfaces. The platters, tektite sculptures, and bowls are angled to allow the viewer to more easily see inside them, which is helpful, particularly in the case of the tektite pieces whose exteriors have a rough, rocklike texture compared with the smooth, opalescent interiors. Entering the space is like walking into a gallery of natural wonders — like a fossil gallery or a room of precious stones. Simpson’s sculptures are the first thing you see upon entering the gallery, and the lighting seems designed to make an impression. Sculptures like these, particularly the large platters whose swirled surfaces capture light in a way that almost makes them appear to spin, do something magical with light. It is a crucial element and enhances one’s appreciation.
Josh Simpson: Megaplanet #9.2.07, 2007, glass, 8.5 inches in diameter; right, Tektite Sculpture #1.39.04, 2004, glass, 7.5 x 11 x 9 inches