KCRW: Top 3 This Week

January 17, 2023

Lindsay Preston Zappas

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Alma Allen at Blum & Poe 

In 2017, Alma Allen moved from Joshua Tree to Topoztlán, Mexico. His practice previously consisted primarily of carved wood sculptures (made often with the aid of a bespoke robotic arm), the material readily abundant in California. Yet, upon moving to Mexico, Allen’s sculptures have shifted in both material and form—his new studio contains a bronze foundry and is in close proximity to stone quarries. 

Allen’s current exhibition at Blum & Poe is small (in the garden gallery), but packs a punch. Several large bronze pieces span the walls—the works are scaled-up and cast from small clay models that the artist makes, containing delicately frayed edges that nod to their humble beginnings in clay. When translated to metal, thumbed indentations and casually sculpted swoops give the pieces an urgent vivacity not often seen in bronze. Each work is also given a bespoke finish, which Allen creates using various chemicals to enhance the sculpture’s organic form. 

One work installed in the gallery’s garden, Not Yet Titled (a name that all of the works share), is meant to be viewed in the round, its shimmering surface morphing and shifting as one ambles around it—the shape both bodily and alien. 

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