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Sachiko Akiyama

Boston Globe, June8, 2006

Saturday, July 8, 2006

by Cate McQuaid

There are artists of all stripes in the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Cultural Council has mounted ``MASS 3D," an impressive group show of recent winners of its Artist Grant Award . The sheer range of works, from figurative sculpture to minimalist wall pieces to sly, subversive conceptual art speaks well of the MCC's efforts.

One artist makes quite a contrast to the next. The clean, undulating lines and tender interstices (paper sandwiched between sections of wood) of Greg Mencoff's wall sculptures have a Zen-like clarity. Right beside them hang prankster Andrew Mowbray's ``Reel Dustcovers." He has stuffed truncated fishing rods and reels into cloth sacks made from men's pants; the denim, white leather , and wool casings convey the masculine shape of their contents in a way both comic and sweet.

Timothy Horn crafts Chippendale furniture designs from honey-toned polyurethane rubber; they cling to their fancy design as they delightfully ooze and slump off the walls, catching the light like amber. Sachiko Akiyama makes wooden sculptures of herself, friends , and family. The placid, almost expressionless faces suggest an inward focus that -- for all their implacability -- is surprisingly vulnerable.

Installation artist Liz Nofziger exploits places that tend to be ignored in a given space. In the clever ``Covert Mass," she has homed in upon a steel trap door in the gallery's floor. Red light pours through the seams in the door like heat from the fiery pits of hell, and a loud, metallic knocking urgently hints that somebody's trapped down there.

The much cooler but no less compelling ``What Remains" by Julie Levesque is right beside ``Covert Mass." It's a deserted schoolroom, all in white, with each chair and desk suggesting the personality of a student. One desk is so stuffed with papers it swells. Another simply caves in, splintering to the floor. A third has books and pencils, stiffened and encased in salt, set with extreme order on the desktop.

The artists in ``MASS 3D" may not have much in common, but they're all artists we're lucky to have here.

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