Whatever Floats Your Boat
For Nancy Rubins, it's sculpture-as shown at the Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles
Meghan Edwards -- Interior Design, 8/1/2010 4:12:00 PM
Rowboats, kayaks, canoes. In fact, seaworthy vessels of any kind. Nancy Rubins began collecting them a decade ago wherever she could find them. She would often drive an entire day to pick up one or two to haul back to her Los Angeles art studio. Eventually, she amassed enough to cantilever them off the facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and suspend them over a tangle of elevated roadways at CityCenter in Las Vegas.
Rubins usually leaves the scratched and dinged boats as she finds them, whether they're painted bright red, yellow, orange, or blue. Yet her latest pair of sculptures, at the Beverly Hills branch of the Gagosian Gallery as part of her solo show "Skins, Structures, Landmasses," encompasses more than 60 unpainted metal boats bought from the Russian River facilities that rent to vacationing families. "Pulling the color out of the sculptures allows their forms to really be examined," she explains.
She first constructed a model of the interior and composed the placement of Work for New Space, Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Monochrome I & II, with the aid of a miniature stainless-steel armature and tiny boats that an assistant had built out of wood. "I pretended my hand was a crane or a forklift," she continues. Three weeks before installation, contractors arrived at the gallery to cut two square holes in the floor, per the structural engineer's plan. Into each of the holes went a steel caisson to anchor the full-size armatures, followed by poured concrete to stabilize them. Once the armatures were bolted in and secured with more concrete, Rubins and a team of six lifted the boats into place and attached them with stainless-steel cable. The results, muscular yet otherworldly, seem to explode beneath the 3,000-square-foot main gallery's wooden bow trusses, exposed to view when the 1940's building was gut-renovated by Richard Meier & Partners Architects.