In the carpeted living room of Kirk Radley's Canyon Road apartment, artwork hangs over the dining room table, in the hallway to the bathroom, and next to the computer desk. From afar, they look like runaways, paintings that have leapt off the canvas and crawled away to make a frameless home of their own. Up close, they extend every which way, even backward, deep and shadowed.
The compact, energetic Radley points to a giant, gentle pyramid of layered, concentric, turquoise squares, projecting outward from the wall. Different sizes, the squares move against each other at subtly odd angles, creating an illusion of motion.
A former set designer, Radley brings a theater technician's eye for engineering, lighting, and even costuming to the craft. He hoists another piece from the wall and waves it around, a massive, squiggly puzzle piece exploding in shades of pink and purple. Despite its size, it's light as a feather.
"It's hollow," says Radley, tapping the edge. "They're all designed to be lightweight, but durable. I've even washed them."
Radley sews strips of canvas around wooden frames, creating a fully three-dimensional object on which to spread vibrant acrylics. "Turbulent" crashes together spirals of gray and red and white, creating a visual vortex that pulls the viewer into some alternate dimension. Around the corner, "Duplicity" is an elongated windmill blade of opposing red and blue waves, stirring against each other.
Radley's art varies wildly from piece to piece, but all are connected by the dynamic interplay of color and form.
"A lot of artists just do variations on a theme," he says. "I don't know how artistically rewarding that is. I want to do something different with every piece. I want to do something that makes people go, 'Wow! I've never seen something like that.'" JUSTIN W. SANDERS
[Editor's Note: Hurrah for Kirk Radley, the winning bidder in the "Glowing Mercury Review" category in our online auction. (More info on pg. 3.) He chose to have his paintings reviewed, and—as it turns out? There was no need to buy us off. (But thanks for contributing to a good cause anyway, Kirk!)]