The fourth floor of the Mattress Factory was the busy one this past Friday. Well, the lobby was busy, too, because that's where the drinks were. But the fourth floor was where the museum had arrayed perhaps 100 of the venerable local artist's works in a sort of sculptural forest. Mosley's carved-wood pieces and mixed-media assemblies tend toward the vertical, but it was still slightly challenging to maneuver among them, so closely were they set.
Too challenging, apparently: Sidling over to what I thought was a knot of folks admiring one of the works, I found Mosley himself, reassembling a piece someone had accidentally bumped over. The work consisted of an inverted V, with one deadwood upright stout and another taller and more slender, the second with an additional appendage that suggested an oar, flown like a flag. Mosley and a helper rebalanced it, with the help of a shim made from the wood shavings that had been artfully piled at the base of another sculpture as part of the installation.
The repair complete, Mosley, shifted, turned to his left and saw another piece that looked slightly out of whack. "Don't touch it," he softly cautioned another bystander as he raised his own hands to the wood.
The show consists of most of Mosley's output over the past decade. It's a bit much to take in all at once. However, another gallery-goer (who'd also watched Mosley reassemble his fallen piece) was self-possessed enough to note that the works -- most of them abstracts -- look great from any angle. And Mosley himself, natty in his silver beard and a fancy cylindrical cap, seemed to be having as fine a time as you'd hope an 81-year-old artist would have at his biggest opening in a few years. (The show continues into July.)
On the third floor, where the exhibit continues, things were quieter. The lights were low for a video installation of an interview with Mosley about his life, times and influences. (More wood shavings here beneath the screen, a bigger pile.) Another room exhibited items from Mosley's nearby, North Side home studio, toy cars and other ephemera, a boxed chainsaw. One of them was a large, dully gleaming silver object, a vaguely organic shape that suggested an aluminum honeycomb wrenched out of alignment. A few of us puzzled over it. Was it some sort of industrial tailing Mosley meant to work into a sculpture?
Then there appeared a woman with short, dark hair, one of those pithily poetic types it's fun to run into at gallery openings. She told us it was a painted mass of corrugated cardboard. "Beauty in all things," she added.