Beasts, Dogs, and One Red Anteater

Ed McCarthy at Shift Gallery through May 27th, 2017

Writing: Stephanie Hargrave – Editing: Cynthia Hibbard

Ed McCarthy has been sculpting his youth. His current show, Fables and Foibles, consists of beasts, dogs, elephants, colorful welding shop tools prancing across the wall, and a stunning red anteater. Some are curved, some boxy, all are playful and substantial.

Made from welded steel, these weighty pieces were imagined from fables he remembers from childhood.   Universally we remember fables filled with animals, and McCarthy’s have morphed into wonderfully angled, delightfully rendered eccentricities. Dogs were vital for him as a child and therefore essential to this show. One in particular is large, orange, and lives in the window. Others are smaller, and still others have created a humorous, sculpturally balanced pile. Many show signs of wear and tear via scratches in the painted metal surfaces, or patinas reminiscent of rust.

McCarthy’s recurring beasts reconsider the scary stories and dark fables of childhood from an amused adult perspective – turning frights into delights. They now represent comfort and a bit of lightness, and have come to capture the essence of play McCarthy strives to maintain.

Hours spent pouring over World Book Encyclopedia illustrations as a child recently conjured up the lovely arced form of the red anteater. It is quite possibly the show stealer, with its stable legs, balanced nose, radio-flyer red, and just a hint of wear – as if played with until worn down. Perhaps these signs of age are the “foibles” in the show’s title – little flaws in character that make a thing so much more appealing.

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