Drew Daly | Reviews

La Especial Norte 3
by Joey Veltkamp (edited & published by Matthew Offenbacher)
February 2009

Jen Graves interviews Drew Daly
Go to: The Stranger's Pod Cast to hear the interview
October 11, 2007

In the Time It Takes: Drew Daly’s Ready-mades Unmade
By Nate Lippens
THE STRANGER, June 16 - June 22, 2005

First you lose almost everything. Then, things get really interesting. Entropy, disintegration, and impermanence are rich territory for art because they are subjects that can be represented physically: Take something apart and you have something new. The question isn't whether the new object is better than the original, but how the creation relates to its source. The debut show at Greg Kucera Gallery by recent University of Washington MFA graduate Drew Daly could be read that simplistically, but an elegance and complexity in his work activates the solo exhibition.

Daly is a very strong addition to Kucera's roster. Like Tim Roda, another young artist who was plucked from the MFA pack for representation, his work arrives fully formed and possesses an enigmatic quality and liveliness that is free from any whiff of academia. Both Daly and Roda also confirm the strength of the UW's sculpture department, taking their training in very different but exciting directions. Roda uses clay sculpture and built environments in his conceptual photographs. Daly whittles ready-mades-good old household furniture-until they become ghosts of their former selves, or pulls them apart to double them in interesting ways.

Daly borrows from minimalism's winnowing of material form to its essence. His work follows those tenets to their logical conclusion, using intensive, repetitive motion to sand objects down. The remains are ruminations on their source material and on the process of their construction-or destruction as the case may be. How long did that dissolution take? What was created in the unmaking of the ready-made.

For the piece Subject: Remnant, Daly meticulously sanded a Windsor chair for 300 hours, leaving a hauntingly beautiful sculpture. He saved the sawdust, which he placed in the corner of the gallery and imprinted with the shape of the chair it had once been. Unlike a lot of process work, though, the act of creating the art isn't the main point. These are objects that stand (sometimes on stiletto-thin legs) independently of their process. They are unmade and made simultaneously. The pile of dust delivers a satisfying conceptual punch to the chair, but if you missed the remains you could still appreciate the bleached, bone-like structure on its own.

There are many artists who use furniture to cross the border between art and design, and by extension to explore the line between use and uselessness. Conceptual furniture designer Roy McMakin's work is an elegant investigation of such utility, with its poetic rearrangement of function. He takes drawers out of a dresser and stacks them beside it, or he creates hybrids between objects as if furniture from different rooms had roamed a house and mated. In Daly's work, a similar elegance and playfulness is also present, but there's also an elegiac quality in the delicate, entropic sculptures. The sense of loss adds an emotional heft to his pieces.

The pieces are appropriately complex and obsessive: The Windsor chair is sanded away, worn down with maniacal patience; an Adirondack chair is doubled by disassembling one and making two from its parts. The effort of the creation is constantly visible in the spaces of the pieces. Daly's hand is shown where the metaphoric phantom limb lingers-the slender chair leg, the gaps between the slats of the Adirondack chairs.

For all its entropy, the work is controlled; it's short of calculated, but it's very much considered. The Windsor chair still resembles a chair; so does the Adirondack chair. There is levity too. An end table created in a similar vein has a joke built into it: There is a halved coffee cup supporting one leg. This joke verges on preciousness, but the destruction undercuts it. There is a cumulative power to the play between these objects. Daly has no slack pieces here. No matter how reduced or anorexically thin, the art pulls its weight.

Daly takes the ordinary and makes it doubly extraordinary
By Regina Hackett
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Friday, June 10, 2005

A restaurant in Spain serves a three-course meal for the equivalent of a dollar. Asked how he accomplished this feat, the owner said proudly, "We waste nothing."

Drew Daly wastes nothing. He takes an ordinary object, such as an Adirondack chair, and turns it into two chairs, each a shadow of its former self. Plenty of artists whittle away at their materials. Daly, who graduated last year with a master's degree in fine arts from the University of Washington, may be the first to collect what he eliminates as well as what he saves.

Daly's art is about the cost of second chances. Just as the Bible says not a hair is lost, Daly makes sure even sawdust doesn't lose its place on the stage. His square of wood dust with the shape of the chair it came from impressed into its surface is a fabulous feat.

Daly's work is at Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Ave. S., through June 25. Hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.