Empty Boxes and Fallen Monuments 

A stirring creative transference at Reynolds Gallery.

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The creation and destruction of boundaries at times can appear simultaneously. Artists Richard Roth and Ledelle Moe deliver this converging of currents each with their own force.

Richard Roth's collection of paintings and Ledelle Moe's sculpture exhibition, both at Reynolds Gallery, exist strongly as independent exhibits. Each showing contains the advanced thoughts of artists in complete control of their concepts. Yet in the viewing of the artists' works, each in a separate half of the gallery, a transferring of understanding can happen allowing the viewer to ebb and flow between their impressions.

Moe's mountainous sculpture, “Erosion,” occupies a large portion of the gallery's side room. The concrete and steel structure emits the feeling of great weight. A native of South Africa and a masters degree of fine arts graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University's sculpture department, Moe is proficient in the language of monuments. Her larger-than-life sculptures are symbols that humans create either for the living or for the dead. 

“Erosion” is one such monument. It's the likeness of an angelic woman toppled to the floor. The piece lies on the ground, overthrown in this life with no chance to return. The artist sculpted the work with concrete onto wire mesh leaving the inside hollow. The concrete was then rubbed with oil, giving it the tough consistency of an elephant's hide. Only at the base can a viewer look past the greatness of the identifying shape and discover it's just a shell. The cavernous opening is proof that whoever she once was now is gone, at least in this form.

Roth's bold paintings for his exhibit, “Perimeter Check,” occupy the adjacent room. Roth, a distinguished professor at VCU's painting and printmaking department, uses acrylic or vinyl paint on fiberboard boxes that protrude from the wall. This choice of structure is integral to the work, because the sides of the paintings are given as much attention as the linear surface. Its effect allows him to develop shape and space that form new planes of dimension. Vivid color often floats on white, amplifying the space of the wall and your vision beyond it. In a sense he refracts the visual perimeters with what he calls “impure modernism.” The effect is akin to the Dazzle camouflage technique used on ships during the world wars.

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The paintings appear heavy, are full of contained color and are compact in their patterns. Taking influence from product design and fashion, he produces a series of pieces in which each demands its own attention and emits strong individual personalities. “My real happiness is inventing a new one that is not like any others,” Roth says of his continued production. Even idiosyncratic titles for the paintings — “Spatula City,” “Trucker's World,” “Cowgirl Magic” — allow them yet one more level to separate from themselves and be contained.

The precision of the paintings can appear perfect, as if they were made by machine. With simple, powerful color values and almost no discernible variation in hue he produces clean lines of sight and solid borders. But, Roth says, “It is not about being perfect, it is about being to the point.” S

“Erosion” and “Perimeter Check” will be on display at Reynolds Gallery, 1514 W. Main St., through April 17. Visit or call 355-6553 for information.



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