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Steve Roden Intrigues Observers At The Armory

Jessica Zech |
November 18, 2010 | 9:31 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

"We The Darkness With A Fire Between Us"
"We The Darkness With A Fire Between Us"
Steve Roden’s “In Between A 20-Year Survey” is the first exhibition to showcase all his various art forms at once: painting, sculpture and sound installation.

Roden uses bold colors and neutrals in the same pieces without making the neutral portions boring or meaningless.

He also creates geometric patterns with unorthodox shapes that do not seem to form anything recognizable. Even though the shapes are unrecognizable, the pieces are enjoyable because the viewer can think about the shapes and use imagination to derive meaning from the work. 

One of the most impressive pieces is the painting entitled “We The Darkness With a Fire Between Us.” Roden uses acrylic and oil on linen to create an almost tribal pattern of shapes, using lines in varying color. The free brush strokes give the painting movement within the structured figures.

In the painting, “Sleepwalker,” Roden applies random letters, not words, to depict the unconscious and confused state of the sleepwalker. The pattern looks like a bird's-eye-view of a house with different shapes outlining different rooms and the sleepwalker’s path.

The painting draws observers in because they want to decipher the surface meaning behind the letters, but keeps their attention because of its underlying truth.  

Roden is more successful with his painting than in his sound installation.

Sculptures with speakers that play music give the gallery an eerie feeling, which clashes with the feeling of the other pieces.

The first sound installation is mini-speakers at the bottom of imperfect glassware. It doesn't have as prominent a voice in comparison to the intriguing, beautiful work hung on the adjacent gallery walls, and it is easy to walk past.

But overall, Roden’s work is well worth the effort, and the exhibit is free. “In Between A 20-Year Survey” will be on display through Jan. 9 at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena.

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