'The Guests All Crowded Into the Dining Room'
Jessica Stockholder's colorful assemblages of diverse store-bought and found objects call to mind a term from neuroscience, "multisensory binding." The phrase refers to the fact that the outer world appears to us seamlessly coherent, despite the many sensory signals streaming in from diverse sources — eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin. Usually we don't notice how the mind binds together these different inputs. In Ms. Stockholder's engaging, if not wildly exciting, show of sculptures at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, your awareness of your attention's shifting between the disparate parts and the whole composition is essential.
Here are the ingredients of "Security Detail": "Unistrut, old scrap of tire, wooden stool, hardware, braided metal cable, plastic parts, shoulder bag, acrylic painting, oil paint, roofing tar, two 6- by 6- by 1-inch painted panels." That all these elements remain individually identifiable while being elegantly unified into a single work of art makes this piece and Ms. Stockholder's others visually appealing and cognitively intriguing.
A problem with her recent work, however, is that it looks too suavely practiced, the unruly, dissonant dimension overly harmonized by her canny formal skills. This is especially the case in the big installation that gives the show its title, "The Guests All Crowded Into the Dining Room," which resembles a suburban backyard deck designed by a young Frank Gehry. While it adequately serves as a platform from which to view Ms. Stockholder's sketchy drawings on oblong pieces of paper affixed to adjacent gallery walls, it needs some more surprising dimension to upset the functional order and enliven it as art.