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Art review: Eli Hansen at the Company

February 3, 2011 |  3:30 pm

Eli Hansen we'llreturnthefavor Eli Hansen, a Tacoma native living lately on rural Vashon Island, sculpts in wood, handblown glass and assorted other materials, his vision and voice those of a low-tech storyteller in the manner of several popular musical acts of the moment — the Avett Brothers, Iron and Wine, Mumford & Sons. The appeal of Hansen’s second show at the Company lies in the work’s homespun authenticity, a humble blend of the rustic and wry.

In “We’ll return the favor,” three small flasks with burnt interiors dangle from the arc of a whittled walking stick tipped in blown glass the shape of a magnolia bud. “If I could explain how things ended up this way, I wouldn’t be here” pairs two small hand tools hanging by wire from screws on the wall. Weapons, talismans or both, they marry handles of crusty, rusted metal with a silvery plaster dagger blade in one case and a large crystal in the other. The precious and abject cozy up to one another, as in other pieces setting gem-colored beakers and flasks on slabs of abraded wood. Hansen acts the lyrical survivalist, messing with chemistry as a means of escape, redemption or even alchemical possibility.

There’s a disconcertingly facile side to the work as well, particularly in the sculptures with crystals or beakers mounted on slowly spinning bases and illuminated by blinking, colored LED lights. Earnest charm wins out overall, however. Hansen’s oddball melding of rogue industry and backwoods humor, the antiquated and the confessional leaves a pleasantly piquant impression.

-- Leah Ollman

The Company, 946 Yale St., (646) 281-1112, through Feb. 26. Closed Sunday through Tuesday.

Images: Eli Hansen, "We'll return the favor," the Company. Photo: Wesley Klain