Casey Horn was standing by the door with a serene smile on his face at Friday’s opening of “Zen,” Canyon Road Contemporary Art’s latest show. He seemed to be channeling his work, a dynamic series of metal sculptures in the shapes of Japanese characters that possess gravity-defying balance and soothing symmetry.
In fact, to find any of the featured artists at the opening was a simple matter of picking out the peaceful nodes in the hustle and bustle. Casey, glass artist Doug Gillis and painter Javier López Barbosa are true Zen masters.
Well, most of the time. Casey was considerably less calm on his drive down from Denver.
“I was driving down the road, 70 miles an hour, with a $40,000 sculptures behind me in a trailer,” he said, gritting his teeth at the thought.
Now the piece hovered in the CRCA’s new Japanese Zen garden outside. “Sunset” literally and symbolically conveys the idea of sundown. Three curvy lines—the horizon, the falling sun and the rising moon—engage in an acrobatic interplay. Dusky red and orange patinas make the sculpture almost seem like three leaping fingers of lava.
Casey has been studying Japan’s written language for several years now. He draws the characters with ink on paper, and then literally casts them into the third dimension. Great ribbons of metal twist and swirl, undulating to mimic the flourishes of the brush on paper.
“Movement is really important, otherwise they would look like block letters,” he says. “I think of it as painting in the air with metal.” “Water” splashes out toward the viewer, “Tree” transforms into a literal branch a la Bernini’s “Apollo and Daphne,” and “Fire” flickers and curls.
It’s not surprising that when Casey creates, he meditates.
“I actually have to get into a state of mind to do the calligraphy,” he says.
Glass artist Doug Gillis’ pieces hang in the room to the right of the front door. At the opening, the artist drifted in circles, discussing his pieces with visitors as he ran his fingers over them.
Gillis grew up in Ohio and lives in Albuquerque. He had a long career in graphic design before switching to find art more than 20 years ago. His roots as a designer are visible in his pieces- they’re spare and simple, with appealing lines and bold flourishes.
“I kind of took Zen as being simplistic, so that’s what I was going for,” said Gillis. His favorite piece in the show is “Kiln Worked Glass,” which relies on spontaneous reactions in metal for its central element. The result is an explosive golden river cutting through a placid lake of blue and white- yin and yang.
Swing by “Zen” at CRCA and experience the immense calm of this spectacular show.
BONUS: Check out this preview over at Southwest Art.