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THE ART GALLERIES

Hollywood

April 19, 1985|SUZANNE MUCHNIC

Boyd Wright comes off as a whittling woodsman whose story-telling sculpture has been shaped by Eskimo art and William Wiley's and Terry Allen's contemporary work, as well as experience with his native environment in the Northwest. Wright builds open, attenuated wood sculpture combining about equal parts of craftsmanship, ironic wit and introspective observations on the meaning of life.

His current show consists of 10 autobiographical pieces, primarily focused on himself and his siblings. We find a gangly "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" hanging on one wall. He's a jointed stick figure with coiled ribs, a fig leaf and a giant feather topknot--all carved in wood. The artist's head is a skull painted on a slab of wood and tagged with the phrase, "Easy, but sad." In case we miss the self-confessed vulnerability that seeps from this wistfully humorous piece, the rickety fellow carries his flaming heart in one hand.

Sibling portraits entwine remembrances of a brother and a sister in branching wall pieces and pay homage to "Another Sister" in a free-standing work sprouting--among other things--a carved wishbone, a black bird and a photograph. Still other pieces muse about "Trails Ending," "A Young Wizard Entangled in His Own Enigma" and "The Visible Week." Such titles and writing incorporated in the sculpture provide a narrative component that's essential to reading the art.

Through it all, Wright maintains his affecting regional stance, defending his ranch-style roots and his fetish for craftsmanship even as he confesses embarrassment over baring his soul. He's the artist as big kid, stubbing his toe and saying "Aw, shucks" as he discovers that his offbeat brand of eloquence has shoved him under city lights. (Space Gallery, 6015 Santa Monica Blvd., to May 11.)

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