Ironclad art: Rust never sleeps at Les Yeux du Monde
On a recent autumn evening, as people mingled and sipped wine while admiring Dean Dass's paintings at Les Yeux du Monde's newly completed hilltop gallery, architect W.G. Clark stood on the grassy lawn below the boxy structure and studied his latest project. "It's a little mysterious because it doesn't give off a lot of information," he observed.
From where Clark stood, the gallery appeared to be a clean-lined, brownish-grey slab interrupted only by a two-story window at one end. "It's all about a wall," Clark explained, "You have no indication of a roof." He noted the geometric impact of the building would become even more powerful in the coming year, due to its exterior of COR-TEN, a steel material that protects itself with rust. Clark anticipated the ruddy block to come would resemble Kazimir Malevich's 1932 painting, "Red House."
Last year Charlottesville art-lovers were crestfallen when Les Yeux du Monde first lost the lease on its longtime Water St. location and then shuttered its interim home on West Main. But owner Lyn Warren was already working with Clark, an award-winning architect who holds a chair in the UVA School of Architecture, to design a permanent space for the gallery on her Albemarle County property.
Clark said Warren and her husband, Russ, were easy clients. "They didn't ask for anything," he recalled. "They just said, 'This is what we want'." The Warrens' desires? A building that would house a public gallery, an office for Lyn, and a studio for Russ, who is a painter. Clark said the biggest challenge was deciding where to build because the hilltop property's views are so spectacular. But then he began to think of the project as "an enframement of the view," and he said, "The inside really took care of itself."
Artist Dean Dass, for one, is thrilled with the new space. Serving as the gallery's inaugural show, Dass's landscapes of Lapland hang in the gallery's front, while his recent mixed-media work and two stellar abstract paintings hang in the back. Dass loves the way the gallery's interior walls seem to float, and he can't get over how the few windows capture exterior light.
Lyn Warren also couldn't be happier with the cutting-edge home Clark created for Les Yeux du Monde. "It was a joy from start to finish," she says, "and I really hope it will serve the community as a haven for great art and ideas."
The exhibition, "Dean Dass: New Paintings," hangs at Les Yeux du Monde through November 14. Dass will offer a gallery talk on November 1 at 3pm. The event is free, but reservations are required. Les Yeux du Monde is open Thursday-Sunday, 1-5pm. 841 Wolf Trap Road. 973-5566.