Fred Eversley

THE DANCE OF SEEING

by Peter Frank

As light-and-space as they come, Fred Eversley’s sculptures distinguish themselves from those of his colleagues and compeers by their refusal to disappear. While others involved in the creation of “perceptualist” objects play with the limits of our eyesight, causing us to struggle after the edges, the limits, even the basic shapes of the things we are seeing, Eversley – without pandering to our need for boundaries – provides us clear-cut shapes and definite colors. Or seems to. It is in fact the shapes and colors themselves that beguile us, not simply for their beauty or elegance, but for their ethereality. If they do not vanish before our eyes, they do not stand still before them, either. They engulf and re-frame their surroundings, like lenses that become part of our sense of things. As Eversley puts it, his art has, from the start, been concerned “with seeing the world through the pieces, not looking at an object.”

Eversley is in fact concerned less with the apparent presence or absence of his sculptures than with the conditions of our encounter with them. Their proportions carefully calibrated – according to parabolic relationships, despite their normally circular composition (he calls the parabola “the perfect concentrator of all forms of energy”) – his disks and other structures are calculated to invite closer inspection, luring us into discovering their secondary properties. Their reflectivity and transparency, the qualities of their color, even the abilities of many works to distort, magnify, and extend our hearing, are all conditions – not just qualities, but conditions, circumstances that depend on the materials from which the objects have been forged, the processes involved in those forgings, the spaces the objects occupy, and the relative position – and engagement – of the viewer. They encourage such engagement, but do not clamor for it or trick us into it; the full range of their magic is available only to those who take the time to explore them and come to regard them as more than room adornment.

“I try to make art that’s kinetic,” Eversley observes, making objects that “change appearance by the angle of the light and the angle of the observer.” In this regard, he draws not only upon the examples of his fellow light-and-space sculptors, but on those of the overtly kinetic sculptors who were prominent as he began his career and forged his aesthetic. Charles Mattox thus provided Eversley as significant a model as did DeWain Valentine, John McCracken, or Robert Irwin; and even the translucent abstract Ocean Park paintings of Richard Diebenkorn suggested to Eversley the beauty and mystery of “seeing the world through the pieces.”

Eversley’s sculptures, then, serve to alter our perception of the world not so much by challenging our sense of the presence of the sculptures themselves, but by challenging our sense of the ordinary phenomena in whose midst they sit – and by making us aware that we ourselves are responsible for changing that sense. As we move in relation to a sculpture, nearing the alluring concavity of one of its membranes or moving from one tympanum to the other or even studying the structure itself from its side, we see the rest of the room and the rest of the atmosphere pulled in and out of a deep, smoky hue or precisely described oval or upended reflection. Nothing is as it once seemed. It is our kinesis that makes the sculpture kinetic and, through the sculpture, makes the room kinetic, the sculpture’s optical qualities conspiring to choreograph our environments in concert with our movement. Framing our dance with the world, Fred Eversley’s sculptures make their sites specific to themselves – and to us.

Peter Frank

Los Angeles-New York, October 2011

Peter Frank (born 1950, New York) is an American art critic, curator, and poet who lives and works in Los Angeles. He was the Senior Curator at the Riverside Art Museum and an art critic for Angeleno Magazine. He is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post. Until July 9, 2008, he was a long-time critic for LA Weekly. He was a past editor of Visions Art Quarterly and was an art critic for The Village Voice and The SoHo Weekly News in New York. 

Frank contributes articles to numerous publications and has written many monographs and catalogs for one person and group exhibitions. He has organized many theme and survey shows for placement at institutions throughout the world. He has taught at colleges and universities and he has lectured all over North America and Europe. Frank received his B.A. and M.A. in art history from Columbia University.