Let There Be Delight

Incandescent plasma: aurora in a bottle.

Solid, liquid, gas, plasma. Plasma is the high-energy, cloudlike
fourth state of matter. It is abundantly found in the universe in suns
and stars, but occurs on earth only in lightning and the aurora
borealis — and, of course, plasma TVs, and now plasma art:
airtight glass sculptures outfitted with high-voltage transformers that
increase the electricity’s frequency high enough to ionize and energize
the neon and xenon. If you’ve ever watched the silky, liquid effects of
a low-temperature orange-pink-blue flame in a guttering fire, the
hypnotic, organic ebbing and flowing of plasma incandescence may appear
similar to you.

Seven artists who work with plasma are showing their light sculpture
at the Float Center. Neon and glass expert Bill Concannon
of Crockett is showing a “Neon Coke Bottle” standing beneath an archway
of colored bottle necks, everything radiant. Kinetic and neon sculptor
Ken Herrick shows a work resembling a black clock dial with
glowing linear elements spiraling out from the center —
astronomy, perhaps, as seen by Muybridge and Flavin. San Francisco
sculptor and woodworker David Hollister makes perverse
conceptual art in “Persephone,” hiding his plasma within a long sealed
gray box so that turning the piece on makes no visible difference
whatever, a wry take on Greek mythology’s nymph trapped in the
underworld half the year. Ed Kirshner shows “Blue Lightning
Party,” a model car boasting eight glass cylinders firing plasma,
wheels with plasma rims, and plasma klaxons or horns; the intense red
glass of his “Plasma Cherry” tempts the viewer even as the lightning
discharges inside give pause. Sculptor Norman Moore explores his
interest in myth and metaphor with an architectural structure entitled
“Dream” that simultaneously suggests hourglass, goldfish bowl, crystal
ball, emperor’s orb, and alchemist’s alembic. Co-curator Michael
‘s “Carry-on” is a waffle-foam-padded aluminum briefcase
housing a glass tube or bat filled with gas — an excellent
solution to the portability/protection problem. Allison F.
, curator and gallery co-owner, is showing “Plasma Xenon
Head,” a blue glass robot’s head that will eventually be completed with
a body. Four lyrical abstract paintings by Sally Rodriguez
complete the show.

A closing party and free plasma educational presentation by Ed
Kirshner will take place January 10, 6-9 p.m. Plasma
runs through January 10 at the Float Center (1091 Calcot
Pl., #116 Oakland). TheFloatCenter.com


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