The Fussy Eye: Empty Suit

Dan Webb at Greg Kucera Gallery.

Though dandelions only sprout for a summer, Dan Webb has rendered them with bronze and redwood. And flies, with their even shorter life cycle, are carved from stone or etched in brightly colored plastic resin. The ephemeral is made permanent in the Cornish-trained Seattle artist's "Stones and Flowers." But then he does the opposite, too, with Skin, the tallest piece among a dozen-odd sculptures. Seeing a medieval suit of armor in a museum, one usually thinks, "Damn, Prince Valiant was short." Our malnourished European forebears were considerably smaller than Webb's six-foot-high empty husk of armor. But while the proportions here are right for modern warriors, Skin is less intimidating than it first seems. Look more closely, and the whitish, leathery texture is revealed to be rawhide—like a chew toy for your dog. Forget about withstanding arrows, swords, or lances; you couldn't even wear Skin outside in the rain, where it would soften and wilt. It's the obverse of medieval armor—security made flimsy and insubstantial. Peer inside the visor, and the whole hollowed-out armature resembles the molted, discarded shell of a crab. The innards have slithered away someplace, and all that's left is the defensive costume, the memory of a battle never fought. And, for obvious reasons, please tie your dog outside the gallery.

 
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