Mike Leavitt’s Intuition Kitchen churns out a plethora of playful and multidimensional pieces. From portable homeless shelters to wedding cake toppers and DIY vending machines, his career in the creative world knows no boundaries and ignores all stigmas. He just grabs inspiration and goes for it. For instance, Leavitt pays homage to Christo by shaping his image from polymer clay, a staple at Michaels or any craft supply store. This, and other Art Army Action Figures, embrace a lovely contrast between materials and content in an loveable and pitch perfect manner. It’s not just cheap plastics imported from overseas factories, nor is it about elitism in the commercial art world, nor is it a rebellion against any of it. Each art star figurine is simply built from hand in a limited edition of 10 with a raw passion and appreciation for the entire spectrum.
Bae Sehwa’s steamed bentwood furniture ripples in airy and sinewy ways to curve around the human body. The precision in each piece is not accidental. It’s acutely planned. Sehwa digitally renders and manipulates geometric forms then returns to the actual physical form, steaming and bending the wood into a mold under a tight watch. The result is functional, organically smooth, and flawless.
According to R Gallery, “Bae Sehwa’s work is derived from the Korean concept of baesanimsu, meaning the back of the mountain and front of the water and he draws heavily from the profound connection to nature in traditional Korean theories of divination. The steam bent wooden frame of this lounge offers a narrative that includes both the tranquil, meditative qualities of flowing water and the strong, comforting silhouette of a mountain.”
Ceramicist Matt Wedel continues to make strong headway in the gallery world while maintaining an impressive creative autonomy in Athens, Ohio, where he builds, glazes, and fires each larger than life sculpture on his own terms . . . by himself . . . without assistants.
“Sheep’s Head,” his most recent exhibit at LA Louver, proves to be a wonderful example of what a little focus, patience, and isolation can create. Each cumbersome piece collects to convey a vibrantly glossy world: renderings of a twisted contemporary animal kingdom and its surrounding vegetation.
Of this particular series, David Pagel notes, “Cookie jars come to mind, as do centerpieces for fancy dinners, elaborate candle holders, ships’ figureheads and decorative figurines. So do works by Picasso, Botero and Baselitz, as well as ancient Greek, Roman and Etruscan statuary, Cylcadic sculpture, Olmec totems and carved saints from medieval churches.”
From everyday objects to art history and human artifacts, Wedel’s healthy dose of contemporary dreaming bends the familiar into something imaginatively powerful. On view, we encounter angelic mutants who have been hardened over time, perhaps altered by a sorcerer’s wand or depicted to honor one final futuristic freeze. Likewise, while roaming the floor, we meet flora and fauna which structurally blooms in a childlike manner, but not without a bitter taste of science gone awry with color dripping and drooping.
Piece after piece, a creative storybook of bright possibility or dark youthful mystery unravels, and this is exactly why we strive to look deeper- it’s a hoping to engage not only with the work, but with our own innermost children.
Check out the video after the jump to see the artist at work and meet his 3-year-old inspiration.
Wyatt Kahn’s wall sculptures are built from a series of stretcher panels and raw canvas beautifully pieced together to make one collaged structure. The crevices and peeking back wall help create compositional depth, captivating the eye, revealing clean and simple, yet geometrically intricate work, which is devoted to the complex juxtaposition of space more so than color.
Of Kahn’s art, Sam Cornish writes, “Broadly the type of illusion Kahn employs is one that comes after the reduction of minimalist painting. The flat, object quality of each part is in one sense simply accepted. There is no hint of the surface being broken, of a window open to an atmospheric or light filled space beyond (however shallow).”
If you take a peek at Danielle Nelson Mourning’s blog, you will find wonderfully candid observations about places, things, or people she’s encountered and how they influence her creative perspective. For instance, there is a post about Marchus who has Stargardt, a rare eye condition. Mourning writes about his desire to experience more smells in artwork, specifically, “leaves in a forest which change constantly depending on light.” Then, there is Tod Papageorge’s brave encounter with Garry Winogrand which leads to a lifelong art-filled friendship. Mourning talks about this pair with honest admiration.
Each quick note or meditation brings us back to Mourning’s own body of work– drawing us deeper into the magnetism which aids in cultivating her own quietly powerful narratives. It’s an appreciation for the human condition and all its ephemeral passions. Although Mourning started out in the commercial world, it’s clear her heart transcends that superficial artifice.
From re-blogging work by other artists to generating your own solo digital exhibition, the ability to collect and show art has never been so fast, affordable, and publicly personable, thanks to Tumblr. According to Brad Troemel, viewing art on this platform can help us “gain a greater art-informed appreciation for worthy cultural relics long deemed non-art.”
Take Tim Bierbaum and John Miller. Their online “Baguette-Me-Nots” Tumblr blog series consistently pairs a vast array of comedians with baguettes in contemporary settings. While some might simply call this series a lowbrow photo fad parallel to “planking” or “breading cats,” others might compare it to something like Dada meets “cyber” street art– brilliantly funny, evoking nonsensical play, and showcased in an egalitarian manner: on a digital wall outside of the gallery system. After all, the word Dada might have been born from Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco’s constant usage of “da, da” meaning “yes, yes” in Romanian– a word comedians and improvisers know and love fondly.
It would be too easy to suggest that Grace Mikell Ramsey‘s work only illustrates moments of science fiction or fantasy. This is not what draws us into her narratives. Instead, it’s her ability to capture subtle anticipation– insular moments of contemplation where reality gestures goodbye. Her characters stand on the precipice, holding their breath, surrendering to dreamy whims only young children or covens of three are capable of conjuring, unable to shake a certain heaviness of the pending trade and what is at stake.
To suggest that David Adey builds art from recycled materials would be an understatement. He develops intricate patterns from previous design work. Each celebrity limb or fashion savvy lip is delicately cut out, then pinned and pieced together on a foam board, without any digitalized color manipulation; he does, however, use a Google search to locate the parts for his palette and develop an arrangement.
His process, Adey admits, is terribly methodical, time consuming, and detail oriented, however, this is exactly the point. He states, “For me as an artist, it’s a matter of developing or choosing your own constraints. Finding them and embracing them as a tool to make the work.” Echoing a similar sentiment put forth by the father of design himself, Charles Eames, Adey continues: “Without constraints, you don’t have anything. That’s the whole design process — working within constraints.”