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Review: Imagined Shores by Rain Bledsoe 

D. Eric Bookhardt visits the sculpture exhibit at Callan Contemporary

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"To disappear into deep water or to disappear toward a far horizon, to be part of the depth of infinity, such is the destiny of man that finds its image in the destiny of water." So said the most poetic of French philosophers, Gaston Bachelard. His words may be taken literally — as some Miami residents whose streets now flood at high tide have found — or figuratively, as his book title, Water and Dreams, implies. Longtime New Orleans resident and coastal Alabama native Raine Bedsole is no stranger to flooding, but her water-inspired sculptures suggest vessels that connect the seas of primordial memory with the tides of imagination. Life began in ancient seas and our bodies are mostly water, but civilization was our response to the elements, and therein lies a paradox, a puzzle for engineers and poets.

  Engineers would not approve of the vessel Aeolus, (pictured, upper right) a skeletal canoe that seems to hover in space as crystalline drops fall from its spindly ribs like vastly oversized tears. What it means will vary with the viewer but, like a ghost boat in magic realist fiction, it seems to ply etheric currents in a sea of dreams. Others look equally gossamer, whether made from steel rods shaped like reeds or clad in paper as sheer as the lanterns Brazilians set float for All Saints Day. Imagined Islands suggests a spindly seed pod, but pages from antique books appear embedded in its silk fabric skin. The creations of man and nature are similarly interwoven in her works on paper, whimsical drawings of trees, structures and coral reefs on collaged backings of vintage book covers. Even Tower of Babel, in this context, recalls the spiraling interior of a nautilus shell. Bedsole's bronzes are more substantial, but their repetition of iconic forms reinforces the subtle elemental subtext that underlies this show — namely the way all things created by man and nature are ultimately interwoven, connected by subtle but imperishable bonds that can be bent but never broken.

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