If you haven't seen the Arlene Abend retrospective, "Resin-ating Metal," which opened at Edgewood Gallery at 216 Tecumsah Road on Nov. 5, you've still got all of December to see it, because it'll be on view through New Year's Eve. A survey of more than three decades worth of Abend's sculpture - in cut, cast and incised steel, bronze and other metals plus the later, ground-breaking cast resin pieces - is a lot to shoehorn into such a small gallery, but this exhibition of 33 pieces has been managed pretty successfully. Well, make that 36 pieces - because the three large, circular wall pieces sold almost immediately. Gallery owner and curator Cheryl Chappell asked Abend to make replacements, which she delivered last Saturday - by mid-afternoon two of those sold too.
On Tuesday morning, Abend said, "These were some of the most difficult pieces to do, because they are deceptively simple - every element has such an impact. And it's a kind of silent conversation between myself and the materials - I pick a hanging point, but they really find their own balance as I make them. And it was a total surprise that people would enjoy them so much! I had thrown these pieces on the floor a couple years ago - they were scrap metal and I wasn't really doing wall sculptures much anymore. But at Cheryl's gentle urging I made these."
Although as curator Chappell picked most of the pieces and decided upon the exhibition's floor-plan, Abend insisted on including one piece depicting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (the snake is there too), an almost-life size upright piece made of a single sheet of steel that, bent and folded, presents front, side profile and back views of the couple.
Abend calls it a "big plasma cut," referencing the torch conventionally used to cut steel, which she has adapted for the intricate, lacey cut-outs of garden vegetation and surface incisions that depict the couple and so resemble drawing with a brush. Years ago, before the need to work in three dimensions overtook her, Abend primarily made drawings and paintings, and this piece reminds us of her facility as a graphic artist.