Art with a wink

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Metal works have a playful edge

If you’re the sort who itches to reach past the “do not touch” plaques at the dullest of exhibitions, the upcoming Denton show by sculptor and jeweler Lauren McAdams Selden might have your goose cooked.

Scorched, even.

Selden takes all the persnickety and charming quirks involved in human relations — especially communication — and puts them into inviting works of art. If locals are lucky, the perfunctory “do not touch” plaques will be absent.

Selden’s art recalls the toys of childhood: things that roll, bounce, sway and pop. Things that look simple (where did you go, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and Weebles?) but entice you for hours.

How does a fine artist accomplish this playful, dare-you-to-nudge-me kind of art? Selden uses both the three-dimensional allure of sculpture with the ease and exotic nature of jewelry.

In her Flying Rings series, the artist uses traditional metalwork techniques to carefully craft both fixed objects and moving parts that mimic wheels, rotor blades and the whirligig atop a propeller beanie.

Imagine a simple designer ring with clean lines and smooth metals, then supersize it and fit it with stick-figure legs and and the occasional mobile limb or spinning hat-like feature. These are the figures of Flying Rings, only Selden gives them names. Leigh is a prim little figure. A neat A-line body topped with a neat bell-like cap stands on ultra-slim “legs” and feet (if you can call them that) that might as well be in-line skate wheels dressed up in copper and brass.

Each figure is some variation on a body that speaks in attributes (and flaws, maybe). Where Leigh is all business and function, Paul wants to flee the past, all forward motion. Gus suffers from terminal gloom and is too earthbound to dream.

Together, the pieces recall the jumbled stuff that is family dynamics, corporate culture or institutional posture. You can apply the figures to any network of people doing the hard work of relating. Fortunately, Selden makes it engaging to watch and to decode.

Selden’s exhibition, “Uprising,” opens Sunday in the Gough Gallery at the Center for the Visual Arts, 400 E. Hickory St. Meanwhile, “No End of Vision: Texas as Seen by Two Laureates” a joint exhibit of Karla K. Morton’s photography paired with poetry by Alan Birkelbach, opens in the Meadows Gallery.

A joint opening reception will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. The artists will be in attendance.

The exhibits run through Nov. 1. Regular gallery hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free.

— Lucinda Breeding


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