Patrick Harkin & Kyle Bauer by Mark Jenkins
Their twinned Hamiltonian Gallery shows have fanciful touches but use prosaic objects and practical skills.
— Mark Jenkins, Washington Post

In the galleries: Misty images from a twilight zone

Plywood and concrete are among the commonplace materials used by Kyle Bauer and Patrick Harkin, two of the many contemporary artists who seem mindful less of the Louvre than Home Depot. Their twinned Hamiltonian Gallery shows have fanciful touches but use prosaic objects and practical skills.

Imaginary games and actual vegetation are rendered on a large scale in the free-standing sculptures of Bauer’s “At Hand.” Previously, the Baltimore artist often painted his work, but these pieces are unfinished to emphasize form over surface. A meticulous plywood hedgerow greets visitors, who then encounter pieces that are less symmetrical and seemingly more precarious. The exact purpose of Bauer’s constructions is elusive, but their sense of menace is palpable.

A Gatorade bottle is one of the motifs in Harkin’s “Harm Reduction,” a mixed-media artistic feedback loop. There are photos of the containers frozen in ice, and hanging bottle-shaped light fixtures made of pigmented concrete. The reference is partly to art history: Photos are titled “after Morandi,” the 20th-century Italian artist who painted simple things simply.

Other elements have environmental significance. The Richmond artist has converted oil drums into seats and installed a photovoltaic panel that takes the light from the suspended fixtures to power an audio drone. The sound is a unifying element, and an ecological warning siren.