Continuing through April 25, 2015
Patrick Renner stays true to the title of his show — “Cabinet of Curiosities” — in that he exhibits his sculptures alongside African art from the gallery’s collection. Cabinets of curiosity date back to the sixteenth century, but this show twists the original purpose of patrons presenting disparate collections of what were then regarded as exotic objects. By showing selections from the gallery's inventory alongside the contemporary art, we gain better understanding and respect for both. The African pieces have a primal quality that mixes well with Renner’s constructions. In fact, for “Arks of the Earth,” the artist suspends a carved-wood Dogon (an African ethnic group living in Mali) trough above a large western sink. This show offers an illuminating glimpse into Renner’s influences and working techniques, as it includes personal items from his home and studio, as well as a number of drawings. In a glass cabinet, Renner’s sketchbooks and smaller pieces are interspersed with African pieces and objects belonging to Renner family members.
Many of the artist’s larger sculptures are made from discarded architectural pieces. In “Strata” Renner arranges rocks, pebbles, “found” lost socks and dirt of various colors into strategic layers inside a found window frame. “Unfolding Box” reveals his skill as a woodworker and innovator. Created from walnut and poplar, the piece opens up into a fanlike object that bears little resemblance to a box. For “The Frankenstein Method” Renner deconstructed a mid-century table and reconfigured it into a geometric wall construction.
Roughly 100 pieces comprise the show, which explores the artist’s roots with a mix of early and recent work. Renner returned to Houston from graduate school a few years ago, and since then has completed several public sculptures, including “Funnel Tunnel,” a 180-foot long snakelike piece made from strips of painted recycled wood woven into a steel structure. Renner is a talented and versatile young artist who demonstrates he can handle everything from small handheld pieces to major installations.