Not To Be Overlooked
Helen Cullinan - The Plain Dealer
September 26, 1987
The Joyce Porcelli Gallery, 2021 Murray Hill Rd., shows the white porcelain slip-cast sculptures of S. Judson Wilcox, the evocative/provocative mixed-media assemblages of Steven B. Smith and two site-specific window presentations done by the artists jointly. It's another vintage Porcelli-style show with a combination of craftmanship, showmanship, outspoken statement and underlying content.
The installations in the two storefront windows that confront visitors to this renovated (by architect Dennis Porcelli) former bakery present two disparate pictures. One is the fantasy world of Mickey Mouse. The other is the world of the television set and gasoline pump. The Disney window is filled with Mickey Mouse collectibles and toys including a battered hobbyhorse and airplanes - all part of a make-believe world embedded in American culture.
An armless female mannequin watches television in the comparably stagy installation on the right. Found-object furnishings of this bleakly contemporary environment include part of an old gas station pump, a transparent curtain of castoff neon light tubes, and - either for old time's sake or as a memento mori - a fetish-box sculptural decoration fitted out with an animal skull, bones, candles and the like, draped with lace.
There's more inside. Steven Smith is both a crack found-object collector and a genius at putting objects together in a way that is all at once poetic, raw, perhaps lugubrious, and at times biting or potentially offensive. There's a lot of madonna (not the rock star) imagery that some could do without, for example, and the list could go on. And then there's the rusty old bird cage with a chicken leg grasping the perch and pennies scattered below. It's not all that cheerful.
My favorite Smith works are the newspaper collages reminiscent of Kurt Schwitters and other 1920s artists. They have a prototype '20s-period feel, though the papers here date from the 1950s, filled with unbelievably low prices in the ads. Come to think of it, Smith is as neo-Dada as anyone around. He's definitely not to be overlooked.
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