Thursday, September 11, 2008

Woman of Steel

The Woman of Steel Gallery is a little like the Lisk Gallery in that it's dedicated mainly to displaying the art of the gallery's owner, Irene Deely, so while the pieces themselves are dynamic, they don't always vary a lot from visit to visit. In fact, the sculpture I've sketched above -- of a steel mermaid with what look like old-fashioned car grilles for the chest and arms or wings, and hair cascading into a tangle of wires and light bulbs -- is one I'm pretty sure I've seen on both my visits there. This is not to say that Deely isn't prolific enough, but I understand much of her work is custom work for clients that never makes it into her gallery.
But Woman of Steel has a few more things to commend it and, in my humble opinion, make it worth visiting more frequently. One, of course, is the wine and cigar bar (a nice perk if you indulge in either, or, like me, both). And another is the impressive way the art is integrated into the building. If you go, be sure to pay attention to wall outlets, light fixtures and vent grates. Deely has put her touch on all of them, sneaking her twisting welded metal creations in throughout the exhibit space.
Woman of Steel is probably best known for Deely's sculpture of a roundhouse-kicking Statue of Liberty. The original is inside the gallery, and a larger-than-life version outside has just gone on a tour of military bases, an assistant welder told me. It's a fun piece, but I really like a lot of the other pieces inside -- particularly the mermaid I sketched above; a sculpture behind the bar like some arched stained-glass window full of intertwining circles; and a triptych of photos of the Boise area, including one I recognized of the leaf cutouts on the Capitol Terrace Parking Garage at 9th and Idaho in Boise, framed in a massive hinged metal frame about two inches thick.

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