Mel Kendrick's 'Seeing Things in Things' Opens at The Parrish - 27 East

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Mel Kendrick’s ‘Seeing Things in Things’ Opens at The Parrish

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Mel Kendrick at the Parrish Art Museum on November 5 for the opening night of “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things.”JENNY GORMAN

Mel Kendrick at the Parrish Art Museum on November 5 for the opening night of “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things.”JENNY GORMAN

Parrish Art Museum Director Monica Ramiriz-Montagut at the November 5 opening of “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things.”JENNY GORMAN

Parrish Art Museum Director Monica Ramiriz-Montagut at the November 5 opening of “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things.”JENNY GORMAN

Artist Mel Kendrick and gallerist David Nolan at the Parrish Art Museum's November 5 opening of “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things.”JENNY GORMAN

Artist Mel Kendrick and gallerist David Nolan at the Parrish Art Museum's November 5 opening of “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things.”JENNY GORMAN

Rick Liss, Ralph Gibson, Mary Heilmann, Ned Smyth, Mel Kendrick, David Nolan and Dianne Blell at the Parrish Art Museum's November 5 opening of “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things.”JENNY GORMAN

Rick Liss, Ralph Gibson, Mary Heilmann, Ned Smyth, Mel Kendrick, David Nolan and Dianne Blell at the Parrish Art Museum's November 5 opening of “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things.”JENNY GORMAN

A guest admires the work during the Parrish Art Museum's November 5 opening of “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things.”JENNY GORMAN

A guest admires the work during the Parrish Art Museum's November 5 opening of “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things.”JENNY GORMAN

Emily Goldstein and Mel Kendrick at the Parrish Art Museum's November 5 opening of “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things.”JENNY GORMAN

Emily Goldstein and Mel Kendrick at the Parrish Art Museum's November 5 opening of “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things.”JENNY GORMAN

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Crosswalk 1," 1992. Woodblock on Kozo paper, 108" x 192." MEL KENDRICK

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "7 from 7," 2000. Wood. 32" x 21" x 18." MEL KENDRICK

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Behind the Cross," 1982. Plaster, wood, ink, 74" x 44" x 21." THE ADDISON GALLERY OF AMERICAN ART, ANDOVER, MA

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Nemo," 1983. Wood, plaster, ink 66" x 216" x 140." FUNC ART, KINDERHOOK, NY

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Nemo," 1983. Wood, plaster, ink 66" x 216" x 140." FUNC ART, KINDERHOOK, NY

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Painted Poplar and Plywood with Bolts," 1988. 144" x 60" x 60." MEL KENDRICK

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Sculpture No. 3," 1991. Poplar, oil, lamp black, pipe, 117" x 48" x 54 ." FUNC ART, KINDERHOOK, NY

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Big Daddy Fun/Second Version," 1995. Cast rubber, wood, and pipe, 82½" x 77" x 49." MEL KENDRICK

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Big Daddy Fun/Second Version," 1995. Cast rubber, wood, and pipe, 82½" x 77" x 49." MEL KENDRICK

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Drilled Burl/Stacked Logs," 1995. Cast rubber, wood, and pipe, 98" x 70" x 25." MEL KENDRICK

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Pipe Hole," 2000. Wood, steel, rubber and ink, 90" x 38" x 39." FUNC ART, KINDERHOOK, NY

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "X + Y," 2001. Wood, wire and cable ties, 12" x 35" x 24." MEL KENDRICK

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "X + Y," 2001. Wood, wire and cable ties, 12" x 35" x 24." MEL KENDRICK

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Untitled," 2002. Padouk and gesso, each approximately 6" x 3⅛" x 4½." MEL KENDRICK

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Untitled," 2002. Padouk and gesso, each approximately 6" x 3⅛" x 4½." MEL KENDRICK

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Untitled, (Green Block)," 2007. Wood and Japan color, 68" x 25¼" x 25¼." HALL ART FOUNDATION

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Standing Block (Black Concrete)," 2020. Cast concrete 105" x 51" x 47" on view outside the Parrish Art Museum. ANNETTE HINKLE

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Standing Block (Black Concrete)," 2020. Cast concrete 105" x 51" x 47" on view outside the Parrish Art Museum. ANNETTE HINKLE

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Untitled," 2021. Mahogany and gesso, 80" x 101 1/2" x 4." Mel Kendrick "Untitled," 2022. Ebonized mahogany, Unknown dimensions. COURTESY THE ARTIST AND DAVID NOLAN GALLERY

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Thinking of What," 2022. Ebonized mahogany and gesso, 119" x 140" x 4½." COURTESY THE ARTIST AND DAVID NOLAN GALLERY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” Installation view, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, N.Y., November 6, 2022–February 19, 2023. GARY MAMAY

Mel Kendrick's

Mel Kendrick's "Black Dots," 1989–90. Basswood, glue, and lamp black, 145" x 60" x 120"; "Thinking of What," 2022. Ebonized mahogany and gesso, 119" x 140" x 4 ½ ." Courtesy the Artist and David Nolan Gallery. GARY MAMAY

Mel Kendrick’s “Blue Wall Piece #6,” 2020. Mahogany and Japan color, 96½” x 72” x 4”; Courtesy the Artist and Tim Hill Gallery; “L450,” 2019. Mahogany and gesso, 89” x 51” x 32.” Courtesy the Artist. GARY MAMAY

Mel Kendrick’s “Blue Wall Piece #6,” 2020. Mahogany and Japan color, 96½” x 72” x 4”; Courtesy the Artist and Tim Hill Gallery; “L450,” 2019. Mahogany and gesso, 89” x 51” x 32.” Courtesy the Artist. GARY MAMAY

Mel Kendrick’s “Untitled (Green Block),” 2007. Wood and Japan color, 68” x 25¼” x 25¼.” Hall Collection; Selections of “Untitled,” 2007 series. Mahogany, Japan color, various dimensions. Courtesy the Artist and David Nolan Gallery. GARY MAMAY

Mel Kendrick’s “Untitled (Green Block),” 2007. Wood and Japan color, 68” x 25¼” x 25¼.” Hall Collection; Selections of “Untitled,” 2007 series. Mahogany, Japan color, various dimensions. Courtesy the Artist and David Nolan Gallery. GARY MAMAY

Mel Kendrick’s “Reverse Stump,” 1995. Wood, pipe, mending plates and threaded rod, 92½” x 67” x 65.” Courtesy the Artist. Installation view in “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things.” GARY MAMAY

Mel Kendrick’s “Reverse Stump,” 1995. Wood, pipe, mending plates and threaded rod, 92½” x 67” x 65.” Courtesy the Artist. Installation view in “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things.” GARY MAMAY

Mel Kendrick's

Mel Kendrick's "Behind the Cross, "1982. Plaster, wood, ink, 74" x 44" x 21." Addison gallery of America Art, Phillips Academy; "Nemo," 1983. Wood, plaster, ink, 66" x 216" x 140." Courtesy the artist. GARY MAMAY

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Sculpture No. 3," 1991; "Sculpture No. 2," 1991; "Sculpture No. 4," 1991. Poplar, oil, pipe, lamp black. Various dimensions. Courtesy of the artist; "Crosswalk 1," 1992. Woodblock on Kozo paper, 108" x 192." Courtesy the artist. GARY MAMAY

Mel Kendrick

Mel Kendrick "Second Standing Block (Black Concrete), "2020. Cast concrete, 105" x 51" x 47." Courtesy the artist. JENNY GORMAN

authorAnnette Hinkle on Nov 14, 2022

As an artist with a long career encompassing a range of mediums and forms of expression, Mel Kendrick encourages viewers to explore his work while bringing to it their own individual experiences, impressions and emotions. Though wood is the preferred material used in his massive sculptures, Kendrick is not shy about exploring other substances in the creative process, including paper, rubber and cast concrete.

Yet in all his work, there remains a sense of the organic — and some of his pieces even appear to have a life of their own.

On view now at the Parrish Art Museum is “Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” a show that comes to Water Mill from the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts, where it was on view in 2021. Accompanied by an illustrated 192-page book, co-published by Rizzoli Electa, the exhibition is Kendrick’s first major survey and it highlights a massive body of work from a prolific four-decade career.

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” opened at the Parrish on November 5 and runs through February 19, and the works in the show represent Kendrick’s many diverse artistic explorations over the years. It’s not just sculpture on view, but also pieces encompassing negative photography, woodblock, cast paper and more, including “Thinking of What,” a giant 9-foot-by-11-foot wooden wall piece made of ebonized mahogany and gesso that was created specifically for this show.

“This lobby is tremendous and massive,” Kendrick explained during a walk-through as the exhibition was being installed at the Parrish. “This is a new piece that I made with this wall in mind.”

Kendrick’s wall sculptures are an outgrowth of his cast paper pieces and they represent a somewhat different impulse for this artist, who, in designing freestanding sculptures, tends to rely on sheer gravity and physics in building constructions that are counter-balanced by shape and design, or occasionally find their footing through the addition of supportive metal legs.

“The key element in the sculpture is gravity — all the weight is straight up and down, there’s no hidden support, no cantilever,” said Kendrick, gesturing to “Black Dots,” a sculpture created in the late 1980s. “The wood is attached on the other side, so it’s balanced — otherwise it would tip right over. Everything is about standing.

“With the wall sculptures, you’re not dealing with gravity. They give me a different kind of freedom. They free me up from standing on the floor,” he added. “Some things are possible, some are not. In one sense, wall sculpture doesn’t satisfy me at all because of that fact I get to forget about gravity. It’s purely visual. But they’re pretty physical and I can do a lot with these wall pieces which are about balancing, stacking things up, with the wall holding it together.”

While the wall constructions are meant to be viewed from one perspective, Kendrick’s floor sculptures are a different animal altogether and designed to be circled by viewers as they are considered and contemplated from every angle.

“I try as best I can to not have a preferred side,” explained Kendrick of the standing sculptures. “I want you to discover things by going around them. Sometimes I purposely put it so what one might call the back is on the dominate side and then there’s a mystery to it.”

In designing his pieces, Kendrick admits that there is no mapping out of the sculptures ahead of time. Rather, the process is more of an assembly with the wood itself often leading the way.

“I couldn’t draw this,” he says of one complicated sculpture. “I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The first incarnation of “Seeing Things in Things” was presented at the Addison Gallery, a more traditional style museum. The space Kendrick has been given to work with at the Parrish for this show encompasses five full galleries and is much different in design and space.

“There’s a lot of air and a lot of light, including skylights,” said Kendrick of the Parrish. “I thought a lot it about it and it worried me. It’s most of the same pieces as the show I put together for the Addison Gallery, but there are some changes. That gallery is an old fashioned gallery, there were nine rooms, but it had chair rails, wood floor and wainscoting. The nine rooms gave me a possibility of moving through each body of work, room by room, but I couldn’t do that here. That was the challenge.

“I wanted new pieces here,” he added. “It was a chance to see things as I’ve never imagined.”

With that in mind, instead of being a chronological exploration of Kendrick’s career, the Parrish show, which is organized by Corinne Erni, the Parrish’s deputy director of curatorial affairs, is arranged with pieces juxtaposed as if they are having a conversation about the artist’s evolution over time and through space.

For example, in one gallery, Kendrick was able to present his massive 1982 spidery sculpture “Nemo” adjacent to newer sculptural pieces from the early 1990s — something that the museum’s expansiveness allows — which wasn’t possible in the previous incarnation of the exhibition.

“It’s great to have a chance to really show one of these big spidery things from the early ’80s. Then my work changed dramatically and I started doing smaller pieces,” said Kendrick. “The idea was at a certain point you’re following one way of making things and you get comfortable with it — then you have to shake it up. They can get very elegant otherwise.”

Pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with his materials is something Kendrick does quite often, and in some cases, he makes wood appear counter to its natural tendency.

“I work with wood in a way it’s not meant to be worked with, with the grain going the wrong way,” he explained. “I use most every scrap of wood.”

In some cases, he literally pulls the inside of a piece of wood outside — carving the sections out to create a hollow sculpture and an accompanying piece that resembles its skeletal anatomical interior.

Kendrick will also create holes or dovetail joints, as is the case with “Black Trunk,” that speak to the techniques humans impose on building materials. The holes allow viewers to peek inside the hollowed body and Kendrick used the dovetails to create a wood block transfer of ink to paper that hangs on a nearby wall.

In all his work, the wood leads the way and Kendrick sources it in various ways.

“There was a wood sculptor in the building where I have my studio. He was selling wood — he became a wood dealer,” Kendrick said. “I saw a piece in the back of his truck and thought, ‘I could do something with that.’ I’m always reacting to the organic form. Every piece is used.”

One of Kendrick’s favorite sourcing methods for wood in its purest form involves going to the tree dump, which every town has, he notes. His 1995 sculpture “Reverse Stump,” is exactly that, and is made from a piece of black walnut that came from a tree dump in New Jersey.

“There was a time in the mid-’90s when I started finding these hollow trees, cutting them up and bringing them into the studio,” he said.

Expounding on the sculptural pieces are Kendrick’s series of photographs on view along the Parrish’s center spine gallery. The images are blown-up Polaroid negatives, that, like many of his sculptures, have a nearly medical-like quality to them, allowing viewers to see in the reverse what is not observably evident in the positive.

“The Polaroid print itself was very pale and uninteresting,” said Kendrick, indicating an image of one of his hollowed out tree sculptures. “I threw the positive away. These negatives felt like x-rays and you could really see into the work.

“If you look at this in the positive, you’d recognize it as a tree. You’d see holes,” he said. “But as a negative, you see so much more — so the holes become active.”

Proving the age-old adage that there’s always more than meets the eye, which is something that can certainly be said of Mel Kendrick and his 40-year career in art.

“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things” runs through February 19, 2023, at the Parrish Art Museum, 279 Montauk Highway, Water Mill. The show features more than 50 major works from 1982 to the present, including new sculptures and wall pieces, a grouping of small 3-dimensional “sketches,” works on paper, and photographs. The exhibition was organized by the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts and curated by Allison Kemmerer. The presentation at the Parrish Art Museum is organized by Corinne Erni, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of ArtsReach and Special Projects, with additional support from Kaitlin Halloran, curatorial assistant and publications coordinator and Brianna L. Hernández, curatorial fellow. For details, visit parrishart.org.

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