Tractor Seat Redux

Nearly all of Linna Dolph’s stained glass artwork at the Gallery @ FOUND – as per the stipulation of this particular gallery – includes salvaged objects. But this represents only one part of her oeuvre. To see the impressive range of her work take the opportunity afforded by the Open Studio Weekends of the Ithaca Art Trail during the next two weekends to stop into her studio on Trumansburg Road (Rt. 96) in the town of Ithaca.

Some of the work at FOUND will make you laugh out loud when you realize how Dolph’s eye looks at the world. The name of the show is “When All the Holes Are Filled ...,” which suggests that this is what goes through her mind when she sees all manner of perforated objects.

“Tractor Seat Redux” is perhaps the most even combination of whimsy and sublime beauty. The seat itself is worn in all the places you’d expect, showing evidence of long service. The symmetry of the fenestrations is softened by the asymmetry of the color distribution, which shades from warmer to cooler from left to right. 

Dolph has an unerring eye for color. Were any of her tones too bright, then the whole effect would be spoiled. A single over-bright pane would be a distracting spangle. Instead the light shining through her tractor seat is as soft and nuanced as the glow of leaves and sky in an October morning.

The series “How Does the Heat Get Out” consists of metal heating grates. Number IV in the series is a floor grating that looks to have been salvaged from a commercial space. It is three feet by three feet square with a circular manhole-sized lid in the center. Dolph has filled the holes in the square portion of the grating so that parallel bands of color cut across the rectilinear matrix at an angle. The circular lid has been placed in its opening so that its own matrix is at an angle to the surrounding array, and then she has filled in the holes in a zigzag pattern of colored glass. The overall effect is quietly psychedelic.

Number II is a much smaller grating, but the openings in the cast iron grille are not square, but vaguely botanical. The effect of filling the openings with colored glass and lighting it from behind is to elevate a pedestrian domestic object to something beautiful enough to consider using it to decorate a church.

Dolph has used a metal floor mat to create a sculpture that suggests the delicate crennelated Art Nouveau pieces by Rennie Mackintosh filtered through the sense of humor of Marcel Duchamp. Here the colors are limited to shades of amber and milky whites with soft blushes of other colors. Some of the openings look empty, but they are filled with clear glass.

Two smaller pieces, “Chains” and “Rosette,” look like re-purposed embroidery rings. In the former one chain is embedded in the glass surface, creating a meandering line of openings through the links. The eponymous rosette is actually a single tub drain screen embedded in a glass surface divided in four quadrants, one half white and the other half divided into gray and amber quarters. “Chains” also include three screen drains with light chains pounded flat and and winding across the metal and glass surfaces.

“Fractured Target” includes no found objects. An arrow perforates a clear glass circle producing radial mesh of cracks. An asymmetrical ring of onyx-patterned oval panes surrounds the central pane, and the whole is held together by a flat steel ring.

This is striking work that manages to be both serious and playful and leaves you wanting to see more.  The show at FOUND remains up until October 17. 


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