Artist Ron Issacs crafts delicate-looking garments using a not-so-delicate looking material – wood. Starting with Finnish birch plywood, he builds elaborate relief constructions and ends by painting them in a trompe l’oeil fashion. Issacs excels at capturing the subtle details that make these sculptures believable. The shirts, dresses, and flowers look as though they are gently swaying in the wind. He writes about the subjects of his work, writing:
My three primary recurring subjects are vintage clothing (for the way it continues the life of the past into the present, for its rich structures and colors and shapes, and for its anthropomorphic presence as a stand-in for the figure); plant materials in the form of sticks, leaves, and flowers (for too many reasons to list); and found objects. They combine in appropriate or surprising juxtapositions, sometimes purely as a visual “poem” of sorts and (if I’m lucky) sometimes as an image with real psychological resonance. Objects occasionally reappear in other contexts and take on new meanings, like a repertory company of actors playing different roles in different plays.
Issacs goes on to say that he sees his art as a hybrid of painting and sculpture; the three-dimensional construction employs one half of the work while the colorful adornments are the other. In addition, he invites the viewer to come up with their own interpretations of his creations. You can attach a narrative to it and your own “reading,” but to him, these are largely about the act of making and the fascination with making things resemble something that they’re not.
I’ve been an avid documentary film watcher for many years now. My favorite documentaries are obscure stories about everyday people doing extraordinary things. I always get excited to share these documentaries with friends but before I know it I forget the title. So in the spirit of archiving my findings I am creating a new category dedicated strictly to documentaries. Below is one of my most recent finds.
A Man Named Pearl tells the inspiring story of self-taught topiary artist Pearl Fryar, whose unlikely journey to national prominence began with a bigoted remark.
OK boys and girls, get ready because this next video you are about to watch will no doubt be the best two minutes of your day. Now you might be thinking, “Why on earth would I watch a video about a college hockey team from Alaska?” Well my friends, on any other day that would be sound reasoning, but I assure you that after you watch this your smile will stretch ear to ear. The brainchild of Mike Martinez and his friends over at HiFi3D, this clip gets me so pumped up every time!
Washington artist Justin Gibbens combines his training in both scientific illustration and traditional Chinese painting to envision new animals and create a new take on nature in his paintings. These paintings, rich in color and somewhat melancholic in content, exist in a time all their own. Gibbens received a bachelor’s in drawing and painting, then went on to complete a certificate for Scientific Illustration before studying Chinese painting in China. That, and further travel to the Asian continent, reflects many of the stylistic and color choices you see in his paintings. His work beautifully implements and unifies all of the niche skills he studied.
Gibbens creates work that is hard to describe. You can’t take your eyes off of it. The coloring is poetic, the symbology is striking and bold, the line work is subtle and delicate. There is something so simple and yet so involving in these compositions. They are completely encompassing. They mean something to you, even if you cannot articulate what, there is a connection. Perhaps it is the austerity of the animals and birds, their graceful poses, perhaps it is the subdued tones, or even the archaic setting: like it is not just a depiction of a bird flying, but a study of the entire history referenced within the ephemeral gesture of a wing, a bee, a last breath. These works are layered in meaning; and there are many tiers to explore in search of the words for your own story or his, or you can just step back and appreciate these paintings for the beauty of what they are.
As said on his artist statement: “Gibbens’ stylized and embellished beasts speak of evolution, mutation and biodiversity, and perhaps serve as cautionary tales and stand-ins for our anthropocentric selves. By lifting the formal conventions of classic natural science illustration, Gibbens imagines legendary and diabolical beasts through the lens of a 19th century field artist.”
To see his current show, “Avatars and Shapeshifters,” which will be up through September 27th in Seattle, go and visit PUNCH Gallery.
Daniel Everett embodies the current technological zeitgeist shared by post dot-com kids, the kids of the dot-com kids, and the relationship we have to our interconnectivity (the internet). His work is jaded, earnest, and self mocking at the same time.
We’ve covered Kris Kuksi’s Churchtanks series in the past, which invoked religion alongside symbols of modern warfare to create a curious blend of spirituality and the profane. “Ascension of Eos” is a more recent work, taking the exploration of larger than life mythos intersecting with the mortal coil.
Eos, the goddess of dawn in Greek mythology, or perhaps a statue of Eos rises up from a sea of humans. She’s being worshipped or built — or perhaps the two are one in the same. The humans around her are in a frenzy — some are tangled together in frantic sex, others are being crushed by wheels and impaled by arrows. Her congregation’s agony can just as easily be interpreted as divine ecstasy, and painted with a dark patine, the entire tableau seems truly gothic.
“I get inspired by the industrial world, all the rigidity of machinery, the network of pipes, wires, refineries, etc.,” says Kuksi. “Then I join that with an opposite of flowing graceful, harmonious, and pleasing design of the baroque and rococo.”
Beautiful, dark, and mysterious, Kuksi’s work contains tons of detail. It’s created through mixed media assemblage, which adds texture and physicality to the piece. At more than four and a half feet tall and three and a half feet wide, it looks almost like an altar or a memorial. (h/t Dark Silence in Suburbia)
SpY is a Madrid based artist who playfully disturbs urban signs and signifiers, often confiscating them, transforming them, then installing them on the street. I love his really simple gestures, like putting orange construction cones on a sculpted bull’s horns–they just have the hilarious edge of an adolescent prankster (who went to art school and secretly adores Duchamp.)