New Sculptures Come in Candy Apple Red, Festive Green and School Bus Yellow

Free spirit Michelle O’Michael, a self-described steel diva, is so prolific that she sorts her finished sculptures into monumental, taller-than-you, maybe-as-tall-as-you, and wall and pedestal sizes. Her pieces on display now in the “Being at the Speed of Life” exhibit at Nicole Longnecker Gallery fall into the latter category.

For those unfamiliar with her steel and resin sculptures – which can be viewed in public areas including a Frisco fire station, a Dallas college, a restaurant, hotels and a winery – they incorporate ribbon-like forms interacting with each other or reaching towards the sky in a lyrical and whimsical dance. She varies the ribbon widths from narrow to quite wide, and finishes the pieces with a tough powder-coating so that they can be displayed both indoors and out.

Her newest piece, Golden Possibilities, is finished in a happy school bus yellow. It’s fairly large in scale, at 48” x 48” x 36”, and involves two closed circles and a third ribbon winding in and through, its movement frozen in time. Another yellow piece, Glides in Concert, is a smaller wall-mounted piece with slender ribbons intersecting at two points.

Maybe it’s the holiday season, but there are several red pieces in the exhibit that are evocative of a certain high-end luxury car’s December promotion. If you can’t afford to buy your sweetheart a vehicle with a big red bow on top, why not a red ribboned sculpture instead? Two of the pieces – with a sparkly candy apple finish – are wall-mounted forms; both Delight Unfolds and Crossroads Rhapsody feature three slender ribbons in delicate balance. Other red works include Happiness Balanced, with three carefully positioned and curled rectangles resting on a black circle base; Road Less Traveled, on an angled black pedestal; and Liquid Soul, a wall-mounted piece with its ribbon arms outstretched in warm embrace.

In September, the gallery hosted a satellite event, “Metal Crossroads,” which featured exotic sports and racing cars and towering steel sculptures from O’Michael in the expansive Alara Garage in The Heights. We see a reappearance of her 88” tall silver-coated Mulsanne sculpture from that event, named for the long straightaway in the semi-permanent French race course most famous for the Circuit des 24 Heures. Its two narrow ribbons float upward, challenging the viewer to race Matchbox® cars on the slick circuits.

Other silver pieces include The Story, featuring a pointed obelisk surrounded by a winding ribbon, with a curly-cue and orb balanced on top; and Upward, a smaller table-top piece positioned over a triangular base.

Much like the red sculptures, her three green pieces also convey a festive, holiday spirit. Siblings Beyond Self and Structure Emerges, both wall-mounted pieces of slender ribbons, one with an orb at its center, are delightful and uplifting. As its title suggests, Sea Mist involves three slender shapes of varying heights waving in the ocean current.

As a whole, the works in this exhibit are both simple and complex. While some of her ribbons are twisted into spaghetti bowl shapes, tasking the viewer to find their beginning and end points, O’Michael is consistent with her ribbon stories. The ends are sometimes pointed, beveled or blunt-edged, but always the same from start to finish.

“Being at the Speed of Life” continues through January 9, at Nicole Longnecker Gallery, 2625 Colquitt, open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 713-591-4997, longneckergallery.com.

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