Artist draws on nature and technology

Angela Marcinik

Staff Writer

Where you expected to find paintings or sculpture, you found sound. The latest installation by artist Tamara Albaitis, which opened at the Sam Hill Gallery on Feb. 24, intrigued the viewer — or, in this case, listener — with ambient loops of sound. White speakers stripped of their casings broadcasted bird calls, whispers, turn-of-the-century train whistles, and clanking metal plates.

Most of us might hide the untidy mess of our electrical wiring, but Albaitis has uncaged our modern veins. Prescott, its surroundings and the Sam Hill Warehouse inspired the installation titled “Bricks & Bones.”

Wall-mounted white speakers were graffitied with vibrant red marker ink. Albaitis’ use of red on white echoed the exposed red brick of the Sam Hill Warehouse. Speaker wires hung in messy clumps from wooden support columns like nests of black Silly String. They laid on the bare wooden floors and weaved between hundreds of small nails driven into white wooden backdrops. Albaitis created numerous textures using only speaker wire. The lines made by the wires resembled those of a drawing, like ink on paper.

Except for the whistle of the turn-of-the-century steam engine, the sound loops that played from the speakers were recorded by Albaitis herself. People approached, some eagerly, some hesitantly, to listen.

“Conceptually,” Albaitis said, “this unfolds as questions about sustainability, dependency, and the complex relationship between humans in nature in a techno-centric culture.”

At the opening the artist staged a dance performance, an expression of movement that complemented the installation. The artist herself joined in the dance. The dancers moved across the space, limbs creaking and mechanically swaying to beats made by different sounds: metal clunking, children playing and a reverberating heartbeat.

The opening was attended by roughly 85 people of all ages. A small boy tethered to his mother’s hand tripped through the gallery, while a couple shared a glass of red wine.

“I enjoy creating this work with a sense of playful poetry. Interpreting … the ongoing interplay between the ‘artificial’ and ‘organic’,” said Albaitis.

     This exhibition will be open at the Sam Hill Warehouse at 232 North Granite St. through March 24. The Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

For more information on the artist visit: http://www.burnthebox.org.

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