Tim Eads' Works Find Peaceful Co-Existence in "Species of Spaces"

The artist's works function as one single installation at Rebekah Templeton Gallery.

By Katherine Rochester
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jun. 27, 2012

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Team players: Disparate sculptures make one giant installation.

“It’s all one installation,” insists Philadelphia-based artist Tim Eads. “That’s the short answer.” He’s painted the small gallery space at Rebekah Templeton in brightly colored, geometric sections and filled the resulting playroom with an assembly of disparate sculptures that whir, drip and ping. If Eads’ solo exhibition, Species of Spaces, functions as a single installation, then it proposes an explosion of species in one very tiny universe.

Or maybe ‘cozy’ is a better word. Each block of paint sidles up to the next; a delicate wooden sculpture leans into its reflection in a Plexiglas puddle; extension cords lie snug in slips of shiny fabric. Eads makes art in various media and Species gave him a chance to showcase it all. “They were giving me the space to investigate all of my works together,” he recalls, pointing out that galleries often prefer to show discrete works of art that are easier to sell. But for Eads, his prints, sculptures and wall paintings are all part of a single vision that Rebekah Templeton understood: “I make all of those things, so in my mind they should exist together. It was an exciting opportunity.”

While not impossible to parse (there is a price list that offers individual elements for sale), Species makes the task delightfully complicated. There are moving parts and noisy parts, self-contained digital prints and rangy extension chords, but they all subsist together in a chipper alliance. For an ecosystem that contains so many players, there’s very little antagonism.

It’s this proximity—and harmony—of various objects with certain others that produces Species’ idiosyncratic chorus. Although Eads has experimented with sound in his studio for some time, the last six months has marked a new phase of incorporating audio elements into his exhibitions. “In a way, it’s a step forward,” he reflects. “I’ve already been creating these mechanical elements and I’m interested in the sounds that they make.” In Species, these sounds reverberate through the floorboards and grind into your ears. There’s a device that spins twist-ties against a metal wire and a cone that amplifies the soft roar of an aquarium pump. The sounds run on cycles and the chorus changes often. Eads seems particularly interested in the physical and metaphorical implications of the fact that sound carries; he references experiments like his collaborative performance with sound artist Austen Brown at the opening reception as pointing the way forward: “I’ve been doing installations for a few years now,” Eads says, “I’m just trying to take it a little bit farther.”

So far, so good. Reflecting on his three short years in Philadelphia, Eads is understandably upbeat: “In terms of showing here, I’ve had a really good time.” He landed his first solo show in Philly before he even had a studio; when he found a studio, it turned out to be free; the free studio had access to a woodshop. And so on. “I sort of fell into what I refer to as a ‘tub of butter,’” admits the Texas native.

But for Eads, comfort food is more than just a metaphor for hard work richly rewarded. Food often provides a moment of legible calm within his complex installations, and Species is no exception. “It’s this really familiar thing that everyone can relate to,” he says, talking about the potato chips he fried up at the opening reception. For that dish, he rigged a drill to shave thin curls of potato with a circular blade. In previous projects, he’s made a pedal-controlled butter churn and served chuck wagon grub. In this regard, food seems as fundamental to Eads’ art as it is to any living organism: “There are a lot of artists who use food, and that’s definitely something I’m interested in. But in terms of making a comment about that, that’s not really where I’m coming from. My primary concern is giving people something they can deal with.”

Through June 30. Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art, 173 W. Girard Ave. 267.519.3884. rebekahtempleton.com

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