The lightness of steel

I caught a great exhibit at Boston’s Mills Gallery on its last day: ‘Three Point Perspective’ by Richard Bertman, a local artist and a founding Principal of CBT Architects. (He’s the B).

Already familiar with his meticulously detailed pen and ink renderings of buildings and landscapes from back when I was a CBTer myself, I learned of my former boss’ extensive creative background: for decades he worked in the mediums of welded steel and carved wood. This particular exhibit focused on drawings, wire sculptures, and complex kinetic sculptures. The work is dynamic, playful, and quirky.

Assembled with an array of steel rods, pulleys, sprockets, chains, and sheet metal, some of the kinetic sculptures are activated by triggering the footswitch of the electrically powered motors. They begin to flex, shift, turn, and rotate, mapping out their place in space, the relationships between their parts constantly in change. Squeak squeak

Bertman’s steel wire sculptures of faces are “like drawings in the air.” He created a large scale one of his own head, a huge ‘sketch’ in three dimensions, which seems to come alive as you observe it from different angles. The various accompanying multimedia studies of his face were painstakingly undertaken – every line and fold charted out, traced, molded, shaped…

Richard Bertman’s artwork is rich with personality and humour. I’m reminded of the artist at the office, his happy smile, his manner of sketching with Sharpie pens on rolls of architectural tracing paper. It’s not such a far stretch from this…

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