Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company
The New York Times


June 14, 1998, Sunday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section 14CN; Page 16; Column 1; Connecticut Weekly Desk

LENGTH: 914 words

Taking a Close-Up of Photography, a Longer View of Sculpture




Steel Sculptures

The PMW Gallery isn't isolated, but it's in the relative wilds of Stamford near the Merritt Parkway. It's a drive to the center of town and an exhibition of David Hayes's sculpture, and the experience can be profitable. The largest of the 59 steel sculptures stand on street corners and in front of major buildings, and are easily, and perhaps best, seen in passing. That way they can be seen interacting with their surroundings, which is Mr. Hayes' intention. The smaller ones are found among the stores in Stamford Town Center Mall. Mr. Hayes, who lives in Coventry, works in a felicitous idiom, which in other, more conventional contexts might seem old hat. Basically he welds jaunty, painted shapes cut from sheets of steel, some of them with raised patterning. The sculptures are configured so that the colors of the separate shapes bounce off each other. Mr. Hayes appears to have two main inspirations: Alexander Calder and David Smith.

Calder's example certifies that it is more than all right for a serious sculptor to be playful; Smith was Mr. Hayes' teacher at Indiana University in 1955. At the time, Smith was forging sculpture that is considered the heroic equivalent of Abstract Expressionist painting. Mr. Hayes's works harbor a bit of that macho.

The exhibition is sponsored by several Stamford businesses, with Cavalier Galleries as curator. This is the sixth such "Sculpture Walk," and the program gains in impressiveness; it's possibly the only one that gives the audience that happens upon, or lives and works among, the works not just a few examples of an artist's production, but rather a wide exposure to it.

When the objective is seeing all the works, the experience can be like a treasure hunt. But the real viewing pleasure comes unexpectedly: "Wave," at the corner of Main and Atlantic Streets, has facets painted blue and orange. These colors are always attention getters, but the their intensity increases if atmospheric conditions are right. This might happen, as it did recently, on a gray day when the sculpture was surrounded by workers in orange vests digging up the street with the help of a blue machine.

In the mall, however, the sculptures are in a more nonchalant mode. Some of them sit in large planters where they often resemble parrots, not only in their colors and frequent beak- and wing-like shapes, but also because they create a rousing dissonance.


Photographs by John Dugdale are at PMW Gallery in Stamford through June 28, while the Stamford Sculpture Walk '98 ends July 31.


GRAPHIC: Photos: "Cyclops" (1985), left, painted steel sculpture by David Hayes. A pair of 8-by-10-inch cyanotypes by the photographer John Dugdale of Stamford: "Life's Evening Hour," above, and "Constantine," upper right. (Above and right from Wessel & O'Connor Gallery, New York)