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Local Artists Connect with Calder

by Gail Sachson 10 Jan 2011 2:14 PM

“Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance and Joy” at the Nasher Sculpture Center has guest blogger Gail Sachson thinking about local artists whose work fits in well with the famed sculptor. If you’ve got suggestions, let us know!


Gail Sachson owns Ask Me about Art, offering lectures, tours and program planning. She is Vice-Chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission and a member of the Public Art Committee.

“Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance and Joy,” at the Nasher Sculpture Center delights us with the artist’s expertise and enchantment with balance, blocks of color and humor. The traveling exhibit, organized by the Contemporary Art Museum, Chicago, also features the work of seven contemporary artists, selected because their work was influenced by Calder in one way or another. The ties, tenuous or not, encourage us to look locally in our own backyard for artists whose work are Calderesque.

Redbud Bitten, by David Dreyer

Do you know local  artists whose work you feel connects with Alexander Calder? E-mail your suggestions and/or send jpegs to [email protected] and we will add them to this post.

My suggestions:

David Dreyer

Take for instance, the work by David Dreyer, whose one person show will open at Valley House Gallery on Feb. 12. Dreyer’s stabiles, large and small, exhibit the quiet strength of Calder’s work. His  stabiles are solid colors, with metal lines drawn in space. The sculptures are strong and solid, yet when the wind blows, they have the ability to sway playfully, plotting their own course.

“The greatest influence of Calder is summarized in the playfulness of his Circus,” Dreyer says. “There lies my strongest connection to Calder – the surrealist idea of intuitive assembly.”

Barret DeBusk

Fort Worth artist Barrett DeBusk, a favorite of public art installations, exhibits a playfulness in his sculptures and wall reliefs. He seems to have children in mind when he creates his popular, whimsical work. A backyard merry-go-round is a lesson in balance, made more difficult because it is created with heavy stones as seats and weighty steel beams as arms. Shaped steel figures engage in lively conversation on benches (above) at the Churchill Recreation Center in North Dallas. DeBusk says he never went to an art museum as a child. Of his art now, he says, “If kids like it, then it’s a good thing.”

Kana Harada

Dallas artist Kana Harada, who recently exhibited at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, combines an Asian sensibility and background with the joy of everyday living. Harada wants her viewer to smile and feel her joy through her work. Although inspired by birdcages and perches (rather than acrobats like Calder) she understands how her pieces can be considered mobiles. “My idea of suspending pieces came from simply wanting birdcages,” she says. “Then, over years, it developed into branches of trees and flowers and hanging fruits to deep sea plants and creatures floating in water.”

Kana Harada's sculptures at a recent MAC show.