Stein’s Outdoor Sculpture Welcomes Visitors to the East Hampton Airport – 1998

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PHYLLIS BRAFF
Art Critic, New York Times

True to the spirit of an aircraft, Linda Stein’s East Hampton Airport Sculpture thrusts forward into space. This metaphor seems especially appropriate since the first art experiments to radically defy traditional spatial limitations, tested by Picasso during his cubist period, chronologically paralleled the birth of aviation.

While Ms. Stein’s assemblage of airplane parts is positioned to be effective from several angles, its protruding nose cone is particularly dynamic when seen from the side, which is the orientation provided to visitors approaching along the entrance walkway. A viewing orientation from the front focuses on attention on the assertive overall design and tends to encourage consideration of the lively piece as a celebration of modern technological preoccupations. As it transforms the metal and mechanical components, it hints at the language of scientific instruments but actually presents its tightly interlocked scheme through artistic means, using linear elements for movement, diagonals for energy and curves for flow. Shadows cast by these intertwined tubes dials and fragments provide surprising compositional complexities and produce a rather witty contrast between the tough skin of industrial materials and the illusionary, transient nature of cast shadows.

Ms. Stein’s work is fine-tuned and well calibrated, yet its bold red color and friendly, animated outstretched tubular parts makes it seem fanciful and exuberant. Certainly the overall brilliant and pristine surface tone contributes to the transition from scientific seriousness to a joyous, light-hearted playfulness, underscoring the sculpture’s role in welcoming airport visitors.