Alexander Wilds & Yukiko Oka at Gallery 80808

Billed simply as "an exhibition of sculpture, painting, and unique objects from America and Japan," the new show that opened this past Thursday at Vista Studios/Gallery 80808 (at 808 Lady Street) only runs two more days, Monday 3/5 and Tuesday 3/6, but you owe it to yourself to stop by. Featuring new work by husband and wife Alexander Wilds and Yukiko Oka, you'll be surprised at the diversity of the pieces on display, the intricacy of detail, the innovation of style, and the simple elegance of many works done in stark tones.

In fact, you might have missed hearing about this show altogether, given that five new exhibitions opened around the corner on Main Street on First Thursday, Le Corsaire and La Traviata ran at the Koger Center on Friday and Saturday respectively, and for many, spring break has begun. Nevertheless, the attendees at the opening reception Friday night were treated to a fascinating mix of sculpture, painting, figures, abstracts, photography, and especially in some of Oka's work, a complex mix of media that combines some or all of the above.  Much of her work features images in primarily black, white, grays, and muted browns. In many cases the frame or matting is an integral part of the piece itself, often with as much or more pattern and texture than the image or photo within. Sometimes a three-dimensional effect is used where the viewer is looking through a window or portal into another world, space, or time.  Wilds' work includes a large number of free-standing sculptures. Currently an associate professor of art at Benedict College, Wilds says that he is a southerner who spent much of his adult life in Japan, but if someone had told me that these statues were treasures from the court of some 17th century sultan of Mali or Ghana, I'd have believed it in an instant.  At his site, Wilds sums up his mastery of different forms:

I am a sculptor by training and predilection. I make sculpture, I draw like a sculptor (3D images, not flat composition), make prints like a sculptor (process process process) and paint like a sculptor (it's all about material). I do a lot of architecture and furniture, which is just useful sculpture. Still, my work is not just sculpture - lots of painting, etching, drawing. At first blush it might seem like a lack of focus. Not so. All my work has the same hand, same taste, same treatment; only the formats vary. Many of the pieces featured in this exhibition can also be seen online at and at . And remember, there are only two more days to see Wilds and Oka's work on display at Vista Studios/Gallery 80808 at 808 Lady Street in the Vista.

--August Krickel

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