by Greg Cook
In some ways in Charlie Smith’s show “Making/Unmaking” at GRIN (60 Valley St, Providence, through October 11), we’re in classic 1960s minimalist “primary structures” territory — tinkering around with the basic building blocks of construction, in this case, plywood and the 2x4 board. But while that work a half-century ago was often gray and dour with its air of importance, Smith’s approach appears driven by curiosity and play.
Strips is a sheet of plywood, sawed to become a kind of wooden fringe, with a 2x4 woven through it. A yellow diamond is painted on the plywood and the shape coheres and breaks apart visually as you move around it. Patch(ed)(ing) is two sheets of plywood cut with lines, like a kind of fringe, and then stood up and woven together. Smith hollows out 2x4s with many consecutive drill holes until they can bend. One titled Making/Unmaking Green snakes along the floor, bending over a solid 2x4 and then curving up a support column. Another, Making/Unmaking Blue, lays flaccid over a doorframe.
Smith seems to wonder what happens if one plays with plywood as if it were paper? Or what happens if one takes a 2x4, its strong rigidity its very reason for being, and makes it wiggly? The results are smart and surprising and can make ya smile.