One of the more memorable works on view during last year's East Austin Studio Tour was Virginia Fleck's Cascade: collective thirst, a frozen waterfall – a frozen metalfall, really – made of approximately 85,000 discarded pull-tabs from aluminum cans, plummeting from the high rafters in a warehouse on East Fifth: part of the tour's "Femme Abstract" show.
"And what," a person might wonder, recalling the way Cascade amazed the senses, "has that ever-busy Fleck been up to since then?"
You can slake any such curiosity by paying a visit to Northern-Southern sometime in the next two weeks. There, in the farther room of Phillip Niemeyer's intimate artspace on East 12th, you'll find Fleck's part of the current "Rebris" show, a two-person exhibition of sculpture made from the now-upcycled refuse of human existence.
Where Cascade comprised meters-tall lengths of multipartite ingenuity, Fleck's newer pieces are not as monumental but hardly less worthy of contemplation. Here, the artist has continued with her pull-tab obsession to create five major wall hangings, again using safety pins to join tab after tab after tab in mind-boggling profusion, rendering what could be mistaken for the excised fur of woolly robot mammoths or large swaths of pelt from a Cordwainer Smith manshonyagger. She's joined her endless tabs into chain after chain, layered those tab-chains atop each other for visually impenetrable depth, used them to create specific shapes that might include a border-defining lacuna as part of the textured scape: heraldic devices for whatever posthuman age we're rapidly approaching.
Also: colors. There are streaks of strong hue shot through some of these new sculptures of Fleck's, where she's incorporated tabs that reflect more than the usual silver: yellows, reds, greens, sparking out from each mass in subtle spectral enhancement. "Look at that," said curator Niemeyer, pointing out a scattered two-tone infusion, gules and or in a faint bend, sinister against the argent field. "It's like now she's painting with the tabs," he said. "It's a beautiful thing."
This exhibition is a small collection of beautiful things. Its first part, in the entrance room, is a group of object juxtapositions by Ted Carey, serving as a sort of cerebral amuse-bouche for the aesthetic buffet. Like how amuse-bouche literally means "to amuse the mouth"? These five small works of Carey's are an amuse-brain that will tickle the hell out of your frontal lobes. Delightful and downright wacky, their power amplified by the these-are-works-in-a-gallery context, they're a light bite before the industry-heavy tabstractions of Fleck that wait just one wall away.
Northern-Southern, 1900-B E. 12th
Through May 8