Dave Lane's day job is monitoring the water system of California. His real job is to be a scientist of intuition, a mechanic of vision. He is by profession someone who is intimately aware of the land, what flows over it and what its succeedingly deep layers contain. People like Lane see time in very large chunks. They know that planets are systems of hot and cold materials butting up against each other over eons; they know that that is also true of the solar system, of the universe in fact. This grand awareness often culminates in a majestic cosmology--a particular vision of how everything invisibly impacts and is impacted by everything else. It can be lunatic and tedious; in Lane's case it is the essence of mythopoeia--creating meaning and beauty through the stories we tell.
I cannot travel through space, nor time, but I do know that Dave Lane is going to be famous, and when he is he will be misrepresented as an outsider artist. For the record then, he is neither insane nor uneducated. He knows art and has studied art. He thinks about audience. What he shares with outsider artists is prolificacy and a vision that needs to be shared. At this point I need to indicate that this exhibition in Sacramento [California] is one of the most original, moving, beautiful and inspiring exhibitions I have seen in many years.
It is in three parts: a very large suite of drawings that explicates how the universe works, and a series of medium-size metal objects, resembling tricycles, that, as I understand it, are the vehicles on which celestial bodies ride through space. The third element is a tour de force. The tiny gallery space strains to contain its sheer tonnage and psychological energy as your chest strains to contain your heart when you are feeling ecstatic. A floor to ceiling cage-like object, topped by enormous industrial light-bulbs, so visually rich and arresting that to stop looking, to remove one's gaze, feels like a visceral tearing of one's vision. This object is one of the machines that controls the universe and also enables space travel. I will always be glad to go where it's going.
Richard Serra's torqued ellipses speak about the frailty of human bodies and minds in the presence of titanic earthly power, and at the same time about how subtle those powers can be and how we as makers can have mastery over them. The steel objects of Dave Lane are the flip side of Serra's work: his found industrial materials are commanding in their filigreed altered states, authoritative not by grandness but through pathos, tamed not through abstraction, by folding, but by incorporation into a saga of outsized proportions.
Exhibition runs through April 7th, 2006