Sculptures in the spotlight

From Christian Burchard's sensuous wood panels that recall torsos to Kevin Christman's figures of humans and skeletons, July is the month to see sculpture in Ashland that displays technical mastery and powerful motifs of birth, life and death.

Burchard, who lives on the outskirts of Ashland, uses a band saw to cut panels that are just one eighth of an inch thick from burls that grow in the roots of Madrone trees. The burls, which can weigh thousands of pounds, are harvested for the veneer market. Burchard uses the rejects from the industry.

The cuts from the saw blade, combined with knots and the wood's natural grain, create intricate designs on the surface of the wood. Burchard dries the wood over weeks and sometimes months, leaving rippling bulges and hollows. Sandblasting softens the forms, while bleaching eliminates the distraction of color so that the eye can focus on structure and detail.

Burchard is paired with Portland artist Ronna Neuenschwander at Davis Cline Gallery, 525 A St. There is a reception for the artists from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Neuenschwander's ceramic and mixed media piece "Gosson-Ku (Scorpion)" depicts a fierce figure with long spines downs its back, spikes for teeth and a curving tail that ends in a stinger. But its body is inlaid with broken pieces of China showing scenes of flowers and pagodas.

Her figures have powerful torsos with detailed faces and delicately carved hands and feet on tapered limbs.

Bohemia Gallery Framing, 222 A St., is showing Christman's bronze piece of a nearly life-size crouching angel on a pedestal. The sculpture gained attention locally after it was banned from installation in front of Soundpeace downtown because the city's sign code prohibits three-dimensional representations of humans, animals and merchandise. Soundpeace sells spirititual items that include angel statues.

Controversy aside, the sculpture displays Christman's virtuoso skill. The more roughly carved angel wings appear to be stitched with twine to the tunic of the crouching person, whose hands and feet &

the hardest part of the human body to draw or sculpt &

are rendered with detailed perfection.

In another Christman sculpture at Bohemia, a sphere of skeletons surrounds a woman who is curled in the fetal position. He is also displaying paintings on the walls, including an almost sculptural drawing of a woman in black, white and charcoal gray surrounded by vivid yellow, lime and orange from the wings of a butterfly, that ultimate symbol of transformation.

At Illahe Studio and Gallery, 215 4th St., owner Sue Springer is showing sculptures of dancers done from a Cubist perspective and paintings of dancers inspired by a visit to Spain. For sculpture fans looking beyond July, the gallery will have its annual sculpture invitational in August, featuring the work of seven artists.

Fourth Corner Fine Quilt Gallery's "Our Town: Evocations of Home Hospitality in American Quiltmaking," is inspired by Thornton Wilder's classic play "Our Town," which is running at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. One red, white and blue quilt from Hew Hampshire has 56 squares, each bearing initials or signatures to commemorate the date Feb. 27, 1907, which may have been the day of a wedding.

Gallery owner Molly Schiessl calls the quilt a "silent document of century-old American life."

Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or To post a comment, visit .

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