What do you do for your gallery’s debut exhibition? You have a group show of course. This past Saturday, Dimension Gallery opened its doors for the first time and staked its claim in the Austin art scene with “Birth: Rebirth, Elemental Origins,” a group show totaling eight artists and fourteen artworks. It’s an ambitious start for this non-profit, and the directors Colin McIntyre and Moya Khabele don’t hide the fact that they are all about the 3rd dimension. Being exclusively a sculpture gallery, they hope to make a niche for sculptors, and set Dimension apart from the often 2-dimensional saturated local art market. The gallery sits at end of a multi-use warehouse space on Springdale road where it joins Austin Eastciders, Ground Floor Theater, Daily Greens, and the Austin Bouldering Project. This combining of different recreational activities under one roof is becoming more and more common as they are better to handle the rising rents of east Austin. It also narrows the often-presumed distance between fine art and the everyday going-ons of Austinites. Art becomes less alien, and part of a recreational afternoon: lets have a fun day climbing a fake rock wall, having some craft beers, and looking at some sculpture.
As for the show, with eight artists, it’s possible that it would be overly diverse and lacking any unity. However, that is not the case. Although the sculptures range in size from the monumental to the intimate, and in appearance from the abstract to the figurative, underlying this entire exhibition is a subtle feeling of antiquity. Each piece appears like a relic from the past. Some of this is outright in the imagery used. For example, trilobites adorn the walls, a fabricated pile of bison skulls rest on a podium, and a portrait bust, that stands quietly in the corner, looks more like what you would find in a museum than in a contemporary gallery. Other works internalize this theme. “Natural Balance” preserves a collection of objects in resin. Like specimens archived for future study, these blocks keep the past from deteriorating and make it the plaything of the present. The viewer is even invited to use the blocks with the accompanying balance and weigh them against each other. In the gallery’s outdoor space, “Hexobelisk 3” looks weathered and old. It’s the result of intense heat and pressure that caused the metal tower to collapse down on it self. In its fat and rusted appearance, the contorted column reveals this process by alluding to the tremendous force of the past event that shaped it.
While these threads are nothing new in contemporary sculpture, what is rather bold about Dimension is how little the gallery is. The space is simply too small to comfortably house medium or larger sculpture, and “Birth: Rebirth, Elemental Origins” is incredibly crowded. While this may detract from the actual viewing experience of some of the pieces, it adds to the overall urgency of what McIntyre and Khabele are invested in. Sculpture has long been that thing you bump into when you are backing up to look at a painting. Now, it is from and center.