The Importance of Being Earnest

Dynamic Energy by Douglas Gruizenga, welded aluminum

While on the bus, Dynamic Energy by Douglas Gruizenga caught my eye. Gruizenga is a sculptor based in Interlochen, Michigan. Part of the 15th annual Chicago Sculpture Exhibit, his piece sits in a scruffy little parklet at the corner of Clark and Aldine streets. This giant cog wheel of welded aluminum boldly celebrates the machine age, recalling the engineering optimism of the 30s as depicted, for example, in Charles Sheeler’s suspended Power from 1939. Dynamic Energy stuck me as an honest and unpretentious work. In its earnest, unapologetic celebration of the machine, it takes on some of the qualities of a religious icon, like a saint’s statue in a niche of a church. The piece celebrates what humanity can accomplish—a refreshing change from today’s overheated political polemic. And it does it using rational, symmetrical forms that sooth as well as uplift. At first, I was distracted by the surface that recalled the cube sculptures of David Smith. But after thinking about it, the finish is not a historical derivation. It is what gives the work the quality of an icon, making it shine in the sun like an enormous jewel. Good Dywork Douglas Gruizenga. Keep uplifting our spirits and reminding us that art can be more than political criticism or narcissistic self indulgence.

Michel Ségard (Associate Publisher September 2016-February 2017)

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