As any handyman knows, it's hard to get through a hardware store without buying an attractive tool--even if you don't know what it's for. Colin Gray's tool sculptures combine the love and intimacy of fine craftsmanship with a dose of good-natured lunacy. Wandering through a gallery-full of his recent work is akin to browsing a hardware store with an imaginative magician at your side.
"Zap!" and an assortment of rakes and trowels, axes and saws contort themselves into fantastic compositions, bending and snaking, gleaming with fine wooden handles and brightly painted metal heads. But this is more than just play.
Gray, like other British sculptors, is fascinated not only by an object's spatial potential, but by the beauty of its natural materials: how lovely is wood turned and shellacked to a high finish; steel forged and ground and polished.
Since the crudest flint implements tools have evolved some pretty inspiring forms of their own. They appeal to uniquely human impulse--perhaps symbolic of industry and mastery.
(Shoshana Wayne Gallery, 1454 5th St., to Dec. 8.)