Inescapable Air Sep 10, 2012 By Amanda McLaughlin After twenty years of absence, famed sculptor Graham Mitchell Sears’s sculptures return to Buffalo with a private show at Elmwood’s Benjaman Art Gallery. The exhibition, “Delicate Balance: New Sculpture from Graham Mitchell Sears” features Sears’ signature stabiles and mobiles, floating pieces of hard cut steel that distract, or perhaps more accurately, entrap the eye. Internationally acclaimed by both the “academic” art set–galleries, collectors–as well as more “popular” clientele–Sears recently completed a work for a Harvard microbiologist–his comfortable success is admirable, and one might argue, a courageous example of what can happen when we follow our own “wire,” wherever that may lead. Sears didn’t set out to be a sculptor, salvaging wire scraps from construction sites, molding and shaping and lightening iron and ore. While his foray into sculpture was, perhaps, a happy, destined accident, his artistic education was anything but: prestigious, well-manicured, and well-planned. A gifted young painter born in Buffalo in 1953, Sears graduated from the Nichols School and the University at Buffalo, before enrolling in the famed School of Fine Arts in Paris to study painting. And yet while walking home from class one day in Paris, Sears collected a ball of wire discarded at a roadside construction site; the decision revolutionized his work. Sears began to use the wire in his art, fascinated by the movement and freedom that sculpture offered him. In a medium that is, by its very nature, solid and stable, Sears innovative use of material defied standard assumptions of monumentality and immovability, and his penchant for creating a type of “kinetic sculpture”*–an in-motion permanency–drew the attention of museums and critics. By 1983, his works were being sold in the stores of famous museums: the Guggenheim, the Whitney Museum, and MOMA NYC, to name just a few. In 1998, the New York Times featured an expose on the controversies of artistic derivatives, with specific attention paid to the derivatives of artist Alexander Calder, an artist that, along with Joan Miro, Sears sights as his largest formal inspiration. In the article, Sears’ own sculpture was reviewed, and following the coverage, his work was given over to an even larger audience. Currently, he maintains a gallery in New York City, and over the last 15 years, his work has
spread far and wide, gracing private collections, libraries, corporations, etc across the United States and Europe. His most recent commissions include a mobile for an Italian architectural firm, and a selection of works to replace the Dale Chihuly exhibition at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Sears’ work does indeed bear an uncanny relation to Calder’s free form sculptures: both share a certain self-assurance, a blend of the esoteric and the humble. And yet, while Calder’s pieces appear at times almost jubilant, unself-conscious, tenderly organic, Sears’ pieces are at times predatory, panther like: glistening web or unsheathed claws. His sculptures strike a delicate balance–here, the exhibition title might show itself– between the formal and the unrestrained, the scripted and the unbound imagination. Delicate and desirous, the sculptures enliven the space around them: they move, even when still. They, and the air they hold, are inescapable. “Delicate Balance: New Sculpture from Graham Sears” is a celebration of Sears’ continued exploration. The exhibition, which opened this past Friday, will run through October 3rd, and in addition to the sculptures housed inside the Benjaman Gallery’s stately Victorian–itself a fitting contrast to the sleek austerity of Sears work: opulence enveloped by steel– additional sculptures and mobiles will be displayed outside on the deck of Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile. The Benjaman Gallery has been acclaimed addition to Buffalo’s
artistic scene since its opening in 1970; it is a full service gallery that offers a variety of services, and serves as resource for art collectors all over the country. The Benjaman Gallery is located at 419 Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11AM-5PM. Additional viewings may be offered on Sunday and Monday by appointment. More information on the exhibition and the gallery can be found by calling 716.886.0898, by emailing email@example.com, or at the gallery’s website, www.thebenjamangallery.com.