Contemporary art goes through periods when artists frantically search for new ideas, hoping to be proclaimed the aesthetic innovators du jour. Arguably, we are just now coming out of such a period and entering a saner, more thoughtful epoch in which artists are thinking about how to do new things with old ideas. It's as if, in response to the economic retraction, the art world has reset itself into "recycle" mode. In the case of Fourteen30 Contemporary's current show, it's a strategy that yields invigorating results. Los Angeles artist John Sisley's ENDGAMES and local sculptor Jesse Durost's Fabrications both deal with the process of taking small slivers of material apart and putting them back together in pleasing configurations. Sisley's collages are reconstituted from photos, unspooled videotape and other media. With their curvilinear contours over high-contrast backgrounds, they follow in the pictorial lineage of James Rosenquist, although the aggregate effect of Sisley's work owes more to minimalism than pop.
As intricate and rhythmic as Sisley's collages are, Durost's sculptures are the real revelation here. His architectonic towers, wall pieces and mobiles, with their porch screens and thin wafers of wood, are intricate meditations on the dynamic between solidity and airiness, strength and fragility. This tension is particularly effective in hanging pieces such as Satellite I, II, and III. Freestanding sculptures like Forrest and Wreck look like Sol LeWitt reincarnated as a blanched-out set of Lincoln Logs, while wall pieces like Vortex play with the woozy moiré effect created by multiple layered screens. Durost takes these interference patterns to perverse lengths when he slips swatches of screen-patterned fabric behind the real screens, further daunting the eye. This smart, sly work skips along the border between op art, a Southern Gothic-meets-Southern-Comfort irony, and good, old-fashioned carpentry. Together with Sisley's sliced-and-diced reconfigurations, Durost's clever etudes make for Fourteen30's best show to date.
John Sisley and Jesse Durost at Fourteen30 Contemporary, 1430 SE 3rd Ave., 236-1430. Show closes Feb. 28.