Craft council works feature poised functionality and fun

Joan Sullivan
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Janet Peter's Dancer Submitted photo

Inlay is an embellishing process that slides one coloured media, which can be anything from pearls to Popsicle sticks, into a base of differing surface and tone. This decorative process dates back centuries, and can produce any number of patterns, from stylized florals to complete trompe-l'oeil murals. It is widely used in furniture and household objects, like bowls and trays and Lazy Susans.
Jay Kimball's "Inlay" is full of works that are entirely functional, yet they are also so gorgeous it might be hard to use them for their designated functions. There are wall scones casting ellipses of light, a mirror, a shelf of goblets, lots of plates, various jars and vessels, and even a sink and vanity cabinet. All are formed of white clay and gleaming wood applied in calibrated sections. The wood is a consistent polished brown. The white is thick and luscious, weathered into various textures, as these enclosed areas of white pottery are susurrations of surface. Sometimes they look like sand shaped by ocean rivulets, sometimes like a relief of spiraling triangular curls, and sometimes like the cracklings of exposed rock or sliced, rich torte. Some wall-mounted platters have metallic fossilized centres encircled with a snakeskin stratum.
The elements are always beautifully balanced, a stem to a glass, a rim to a jar, or a quarter circle on the edge of a plate. Throughout, the work is elegant, and seems so delicate and calm, especially considering their creation includes lots of stressing, and a blowtorch. Whatever his technique, Kimball has a real knack for producing things that exult in their own natural qualities of bearing and poise.
Out in the front gallery, "Underthere, Underwear" is a duet from Cara Winsor-Hehir and Janet Peter. These pieces are textile-based, but jubilantly multi-media, with lots of bright, bold colours and playful compositions. Figures dance and cartwheel, and seem to embody an enjoyment with their postures and their fashions and their own fine selves. There are framed works along the walls, often embroidered scenes by Winsor-Hehir of women in what might be known colloquially as their 'smalls' or 'unmentionables'. Winsor-Hehir also has a display of pillows shaped like underwear-clad hips, and "Panty Line", of a dozen pairs on a clothesline, each a one-off of, say, blue cotton with a blue velvet bow, or tie-dyed orange with an orange triangle button like a gem of costume jewelry. These are light pieces - they float and blow in the breeze, there is a lot of white, and the pinks and greens and yellows are warm, light pastels.
Peter has a cooler, deeper palette, but her work, too, is full of energy and compelling vim. A lot of her pieces are fair-sized standing dolls, which are incredibly intricate and detailed, down to a feathered cuff, a blue and red bouquet, or the turn of an ankle. And amidst all this material oomph and gusto, Peter's "Keeper of the Flame" (fabric mache, mixed media) holds her own on a pedestal, still, white, and alert.
"Inlay" and "Underthere, Underwear" continue at the Craft Council Gallery until Nov. 16.

Organizations: Craft Council Gallery

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