William Rhodes sees himself as a woodworker by trade and artist by choice. The combination is illustrated most uniquely in the 26 pieces that make up “William Rhodes: What is Your Spiritual Evolution?”
The show of his work is on display at the Sargent Johnson Gallery of the African American Art & Culture Complex through February.
Most notable is the exhibition’s immense variety, from sculpted pieces utilizing mirrors, glass, gold leaf and painted wood to abstract and figurative oil paintings in a variety of formats and styles.
More impressively, the Baltimore-based Rhodes — who also owns a community-themed gallery called St. Paul Art and Design Studio — displays outstanding skill in each of the areas.
He says he is influenced by travels to Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, which have inspired him to take non-Western approaches to furniture and art. Studying karmic astrology and astrocartography also has prompted him to create works that promote healing.
Exemplifying a powerful artistic sensibility, rich sense of design and skill in furniture-making, Rhodes’ carved-wood piece “Female Mermaid” is strong and beautiful. It also boasts a striking expressiveness; the character’s face has an intense, meaningful look. Also, sensuously sculpted drawer handles on the lower part of the body illustrate how Rhodes fuses his artistry with the skill of a woodworker.
Among the paintings, a 20-by-16-inch semiabstract, “In the Beginning There Was Darkness,” stands out as a black face stares dramatically at the gallery visitor. Rhodes apparently allowed black paint dripping onto a gold leaf background to take the shape of a face, then added eyes, nose and mouth.