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Interest In Wood Unites Sculptors

The Columbus Dispatch, Nov. 7, 1999


The Columbus Dispatch
Sunday, November 7, 1999
Interest In Wood Unites Sculptors
Works Complement One Another
By Jacqueline Hall
Dispatch Art Critic

"Mentor and Protege," at Gallery V, presents the latest sculptures of David Hostetler and John Evans, two Ohio-based artists linked by a fascination with nature in the form of wood.

Both are woodcarvers at heart. Hostetler sometimes uses trees complete with roots for his female forms; Evans uses wood at the start point even for his bronze work.

The long-established and internationally recognized Hostetler is well-known for focusing his are on the female figure. His work is representative, albeit strongly stylized and wonderfully imaginative. His sophisticated bronze figures are superbly fluid, sometimes fantastic. His wood figures have a more earthy quality, especially in this show, where they tend to be reduced to the rich curves of torsos.

In Monumental Cycladic Goddess, the Taos cottonwood has been richly gouged to create and active surface that imparts a sense of inner animation. What are disconcerting are the roughly hewn beams that form the pedestal for the torso. In 1890's Woman, Hostetler has taken full advantage of the grain of the catalpa wood to create a delightfully humorous, yet elegant sculpture. The grain has been handled in such a way that it turns the chest into two, huge, starry eyes.

In recent years, Hostetler also has turned his attention to printmaking, with the assistance of printer Scott Smith. Some of the prints in the show are done from images burnt into wood with laser; others are transfer images from computerized drawings.

"I would never have believed it, 10 years ago, if I'd been told i would build images with pixels," Hostetler said, "but we (Hostetler and Smith) use all the newest print forms we can."

Evans' abstract sculpture is a good foil for Hostetler's figuration. The artists know each other well - Evans studied under Hostetler at Ohio University - but Evans managed to resist his teacher's figurative bent. His work is deliberately nonobjective.

Favoring wood, he often allows its grain to inspire the form; at other times, he lets an idea govern his choice or wood. Even his bronze creations have generally been carved in wood first.

Highly polished or richly textured, Evans' sculptures are dynamic. The tension between the surfaces and space endows even his most contemplative forms with an inner life that can spark the most abstract one with a sense of humanity, as in The Space Between Us. [Knot #1 - pictured]

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