Austin Ballard – The Shadow of the Palm is Deep

Carolina Parakeet with Appletini over Fluorescent Green, 46″x24″x82″
Carolina Parakeet with Appletini over Fluorescent Green, 46″x24″x82″

We have finally come to the part of the Real Art Ways experience with which I left most impressed.  This exhibition was at at the far end of the building in its own little nook.

As soon as my friend and I walked into this small space we both felt as if we had uncovered a hidden treasure.  Needless to say, I found Austin Ballard’s work to be aesthetically very pleasing to the eye.  The first component, that I noticed, of these sculptures was the wood in its natural form.  Quickly, with a second glance, you notice the contrasting pieces of wood emulating parts of modern mass produced furniture.  That visual led me to thinking about the consumerism epidemic and the destruction of trees.  However, the dynamic movement skillfully drafted out of Ballard’s sculptures truly kept me coming back to them.

Ground Pine with Walnut on Lavender, 75”x50”x35”
Ground Pine with Walnut on Lavender, 75”x 50”x 35”

Three of the pictures posted here I sourced from Ballard’s website because my other pictures were not as clear.  I wanted my readers to really get a sense of these sculptures as I give my gathered analysis of this exhibition.

If you take a look at these pieces you might notice the strong sense of balance they instill.  And yet, they also hold this dramatic tension in their poses or on the arrangement of their elements.  This is most noticeable on his sculpture titled ‘Carolina Parakeet with Appletini over Fluorescent Green’ where the top half of it looks like it might glide right down the slope it sits on.  These tense moments would quickly morph into a more easy feeling as I observed with curiosity his choice of materials.  The way he layered the thing pieces of wood together in ‘Rosewood and Iris…’, and at certain points wedging it with contrasting wood, something reminiscent to bone marrow, as if the pieces of wood were alive and growing up and outwards.  Perhaps that is why I liked this collection so much, because deep down inside I am very much a tree hugger.

My favorite of these three beauties was ‘Ground Pine with Walnut on Lavender.’  It has the neatest piece of wood which is so interesting to look at all on its own, but this grounded piece of wood is strong enough to hold the quirky composition the artist has created.  This, too, is another tense moment in this collection, but juxtaposed to the soft and calm colors of the whole piece.  It’s beautiful to walk around and study all the negative space it, so sweetly, consumes.

Ground Pine with Walnut on Lavender, 75”x50”x35”
Ground Pine with Walnut on Lavender
Rosewood and Iris on Wedged Mahogany, 65”x40”x20”
Rosewood and Iris on Wedged Mahogany, 65”x 40”x 20”

The title for this exhibition was taken from the short story ‘Furniture, Table, Chair, Shelves‘ written by Amina Cain.  Reading this story gave me a bit more insight and my take on this collection, as I understand, is about the awkward moments we experience with strangers from day to day; but I welcome you to read the short story and tell me your perspective.  Let’s start a dialogue sometime.

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