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Review: RC Wonderly favors arrangement over creativity in new exhibit

Artist RC Wonderly made a name for himself as an art handler for creative consultant Michele Quinn. It follows that his new exhibit, Circle Gets the Square, showcases his incredible skill at seamlessly hanging artwork. His use of a countersink system in the wall means no visible hanging devises, the plywood works resting exactly flush against the wall.

However, the arrangement overshadows the work itself. The large particleboard squares and circles, in blond and dark umber (toned using graphite), have about as much flavor as burnt toast. Occasionally, the plywood surfaces are flecked with color, an enjoyable quality that gives the impression that a trio of colors were added during the wood-pressing process. But most of the works coated in neutral shades of gouache are bare, the occasional lumber-product stamp notwithstanding.

Marring the minimalist perfection, many of the works have holes nibbled within the shape and ragged edges, giving the planks a weather-worn, chewed appearance. The playful title of the exhibit suggests we might encounter a bit of cat-and-mouse action in the shape, but apart from the nibbling effect, viewers won’t find circles closing in on squares.

Wonderly’s best work often surfaces in subtle, chance encounters, where one happens upon his work, almost by accident, as was the case at last October’s Art Handlers show at MCQ Fine Art Advisory. His piece, consisting of gray burlap with fuzzy black squares fretted onto it, was hung to mask a storage area. Existing in the nebulous space between the functional and the artistic complemented his minimalist objective; the work had a sly quality, as if it dared viewers to overlook it.

The particleboard panels, by contrast, are decidedly unclever and unabashedly consume space. For one, it’s ironic that a pro art handler finds himself challenged in finding creative ways to display his work beyond a precise hanging job. But also, the panels appear as disappointing found objects, like discarded Home Depot lumber items. This use of humble construction materials reminds one of the minimalist brick and timber works of Carl Andre, but in which new direction is Wonderly taking that aesthetic?

A small selection of Wonderly’s fretted burlap pieces are displayed toward the front of the Amanda Harris Gallery, their soft, fuzzy, yellow and orange threads poking through — imagine neutral-toned Josef Albers works sprouting coarse fur. You feel an urge to pet the works and pass your fingers across the feral Chia Pet-like surfaces. But there are only a handful of these small, hairy tapestries, undoubtedly due to the long and tedious process of fretting burlap. As such, the plywood panels take up most of the gallery — and feel like space-fillers.

Given the color-field connection of the wooly circles and squares, the wall presentation works well enough, although when placed flatly back against the wall, they deny viewers the opportunity to see the reverse side, which from experience can be as rewarding to take in as the front. The numerous presentation possibilities these tactile works offer should invite Wonderly’s further creative exploration.

CIRCLE GETS THE SQAURE Thursday-Friday, 5-8 p.m. and by appointment, through June 18; Amanda Harris Gallery of Contemporary Art 900 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite 150,