"Around the Corner", crocheted sculpture.
Through 10/22/2005

Seth Koen's crocheted minimalist sculptures are deceptively simple two-color objects with all the psychological savvy of an inkblot test. Baubles hang hypnotically from long cords, knowing full well that our modern affections hang in this improbable balance between Alexander Calder and Japanese animé, modernist architecture and your grandmother's knitting bag. The titular piece "Around the Corner" combines architecture and anatomy, with two fleshy pink-and-red bulbs connected by a long umbilical cord that stretches through wooden hoops and rounds a corner. This far-fetched connection is as comical and touching as an unlikely friendship -- it may be a real stretch sometimes, yet each extremity remains attached to the other. "Topsy" and "Turvy" are weighted, crocheted balls dropping toward the floor in a state of precarious suspended animation that you might expect from the final to-be-continued frame of a cartoon but wouldn't expect from a sculpture. Each crocheted ball hovers above the floor like a soft-sculpture grandfather-clock pendulum, a long-lost Le Corbusier experiment or the dangling earlobe of a stuffed animal by Takashi Murakami. "Bee" also captures the appeal of animé with a simple, expressive yellow-and-brown ball sitting on a shelf, its stinger dropping through a hole and curling at the end in a moment of uncertainty. But Koen has taken animé to the extreme here, stripping away all the animal's distinguishing characteristics other than its colors and instincts -- and yet it's immediately recognizable and relatable, trusting our minds to fill in the details. Koen's sculptures are soft, but his ideas here are rock solid.

- Alison Bing, special to SF Gate