LEAD: HAVING no place to call home, the Stone Sculpture Society of New York makes itself known by its exhibitions, one of which is now at Blue Hill Plaza here. Carvings by 64 artists, 52 of them dues-paying members, the rest their guests, most of the works are displayed in the gallery that is a part of this corporate settlement in Rockland.
HAVING no place to call home, the Stone Sculpture Society of New York makes itself known by its exhibitions, one of which is now at Blue Hill Plaza here. Carvings by 64 artists, 52 of them dues-paying members, the rest their guests, most of the works are displayed in the gallery that is a part of this corporate settlement in Rockland. The others are to be found in the greenhouse that runs alongside the cafeteria next door to the gallery, as well as in the lobby and on the landscaped grounds.
Collectively, the show signifies that stone sculpture is alive, though not as well as it was in the heyday of Carrara marble and Italian artisans in the last century or even during the era of direct carving in this one. And if a revival is afoot, as the statement accompanying the show implies, the credit should go to sculptors who are Asian by birth or descent.
The Japanese-American Isamu Noguchi is the most prominent of such artists but in his wake comes the Japanese-born Minoru Niizuma, who founded the society in 1978 and continues to act as its chief inspiration. Mr. Niizuma contributes one piece to the exhibition - a column of four identical cubes, each of which is pierced on two sides by a hole large enough to accommodate a hand. Around the hole, the marble has been carved to look like layers of papery material with irregular edges. A bronze version of this without the trompe l'oeil effect is in the Kouros Sculpture Park in Ridgefield, Conn.
Mr. Niizuma is a versatile artist who has discharged numerous commissions worldwide and has had several shows in Manhattan.
Keiichiro Momose plays a similar joke by seeming to have built up his helmet-like form in jagged fragments of slate, rather than carving it; so does Jin Sheing Wang in his cube, whose roughly chipped ''skin'' is splitting like a seed pod to reveal another polished cube inside. Iori Chikamochi's ''Anima III'' could stand on its own as a beautifully carved vertical composition in black marble that consists of a spiral sandwiched between two blocks. But there is a joke in this, too - the section of the spiral that looks as if someone has taken a bite out of it.
The humor, like that in 19th-century netsuke - for example, a tiny diving bell with an octopus inside, carved from a single morsel of ivory - seems designed to show off the artists' virtuosity. But it may also be intended to attract viewers not ordinarily interested in abstraction. Either way, it leavens the show, which is heavy in ponderous conceptions, both abstract and figural.
Noteworthy in the figural category are ''A Little Knowledge Is a Dangerous Thing'' by Ailene Fields, and ''Offering'' by Carlos Matos. Both symbols, the first, in alabaster, involves a hefty male forearm chained to a rock; the second, in a red-and-yellow marble, is a small female nude tethered to the top of a mountain. In the department of abstractions that do not quite succeed is Randy Herman's ''Inherent,'' an awkward zig-zagging form in polished black marble that is punctuated by small pyramidal shapes left matte. Robert Sindorf's ''Niobe,'' in white marble, falls between the two categories as a draped nude that seemingly wants to be an abstraction - or vice versa.
In her group titled ''Pink People,'' Sally Mattikow abides by the truth-to-materials principle laid down by the direct carvers of the 1920's and 1930's - until the last moment, when she singles out the faces for polishing. Surrealism is twofold in the screen by Rela Banks that is cut from a roughly one-inch thick piece of green serpentine (smooth in front, but grievously rippled on the back) and has attached to its biomorphic outline a small sphere cut from a lighter green stone.
Among artists who appear to know where they are going is John Wittenberg, with a group of standing spars with alternately matte and shiny facets that may be a pun on the name of his material, driftwood Vermont marble, and Hindy Creamer, with a shape, also in marble, that suggests a chess piece. Peggy Silverstein's alabaster head of a man with a mustache is one of the few portraits; Gloria Spevacek's head of a child in gray stone is another. Both are competent efforts; so is Ms. Spevacek's boot in a sand-colored stone that comes humorously complete with wrinkles and laces awry.
Mr. Noguchi is quoted in the show's statement saying that to carve in stone is not to resist time but to touch it. It is a theory that he has proved over and over in his work, not only by taking advantage of up-to-date technology but also by subordinating his forms to the material until they are more about the material than themselves. Though several of these sculptors aspire to the master's level, few reach it, and the result is a show that is on the whole an exercise in anachronism. Then again, that is only another word for Post-Modernism.
The sculptures can be seen Mondays through Fridays from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. and Saturdays from 9 A.M. to 2 P.M. until Sept. 28. Blue Hill is on Orangeburg Road, two miles west of the 6W Exit on the Palisades Parkway.
Photo of work by Gloria Spevacek; work by Keiichiro Momose