Art

With dimension and illumination, Audrey Barcio’s towers enthrall

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Audrey Barcio’s Continual Eventual at the Clark County Government Center
Photo: Emma Swales /
Dawn-Michelle Baude

Four stars

Continual Eventual Through March 4; Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery, 702-455-7030.

Our own little golden Stonehenge. A prism generator from the mirror funhouse. HAL 9000, times seven. Audrey Barcio’s Continual Eventual straddles the ancient and modern, the mystical and rational. Comprising seven mirrored Plexiglas “towers,” the installation integrates seamlessly into the Government Center Rotunda Gallery—no mean feat, given the rotunda’s 70-foot ceiling, decorative granite floors, hanging balconies, gridded windows, grand staircase, ugly lamps and security desk. Art easily falls flat there. But Barcio’s Continual Eventual soars.

The installation’s success depends, in part, on its simplicity. Each of the seven identical towers is an equilateral triangle, composed of three perfectly beveled, 8-inch sides set into a polished stainless-steel base. At 7 feet tall, the towers are built on a human, rather than monumental, scale. Bigger, and they’d have been threatening; smaller, and the effect would have been feeble. Height is one sweet spot. Another is spacing. Barcio arranged the sculptures in a line, each positioned at a tiled intersection. The towers are wide enough apart for foot traffic, close enough together to foster coherency. With their golden glow, they complement the interior architecture with a dose of purpose and mystery.

Depending on the viewer’s position, the towers can appear two-sided, three-sided or four-sided. Because nothing caps their tops, from some angles they seem to extend toward the ceiling in a perceptual sleight-of-hand recalling Brancusi’s “Endless Column.” But it’s the play of light upon their surfaces that truly enthralls.

Catching the sun mainly from a gigantic, western-facing window, each mirrored tower generates its own scintillating show, reflecting the lobby, the window, visitors and a bevy of natural and artificial light sources. At the right time of day, the effect can seem almost incandescent, as the lights and shadows multiply, refracting rays off the polished granite floor, the stainless-steel bases, the walls and glass, in an infinite feedback loop. Sometimes the beveled edges produce rainbows; at other times, the edges glow red or yellow as if lit from within; at still other times, one face of the towers darkens while another explodes in the light, the floor a shimmering kaleidoscope of shape and color.

While Barcio describes her installation as inspired by high-rise architecture, the explanation seems insufficient. Continual Eventual has less to do with architecture and modernity than it has to do with sacred geometry and mathematics—ancient traditions aligning monuments with astrological events to produce light phenomena. At the same time, modern materials give her seven monoliths fresh appeal. All in all, an excellent show that repays a careful visit with wonder.

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