Vito Jesus Valdez
("raw art"). Valdez's lion dominates the show.
Crafted of two-by-fours and brightly painted scrap wood, King of the Desert/
Queen of the Nile sits on its haunches two yards high, brandishing its arms in heraldic formality, like an ancient Egyptian figure. Glowing in crimson, cobalt, lavender, and curry-orange, the lion figure sports a tail of timber festooned with flat paintbrushes. More layered paintbrushes form a furry chest, where a snarl of paint-smeared steel wool marks its heart. The lurid vitality of this appealingly crude sculpture, which projects a feisty, even belligerent attitude, coaxes a smile from the viewer.
Nearby sits Torpedo Rainstick, a slender, copper-colored metal bullet, nearly a yard long, suspended vertically and point down on a horizontal rod that passes through it halfway down its length, supported on a wooden A-shaped frame. Surrounded by a ring two yards across made up of eighteen fist-size or double-fist-size stones, this interactive work invites the viewer to tilt the metal bullet in its frame. A racket of metallic rattles and bangs from stones inside the sculpture sounds as the coppery bullet is pulled back ninety degrees and then let go. Its interior stones clank and bang as the bullet rocks back and forth, finally coming to rest. The playfulness of a completely purposeless noisemaker is made even more enjoyable by the bright paint swirling over the wooden frame in splotches of primary colors.