Recent Artifacts is an exhibition of art made by Shelley Gardner, Dan Lythcott-Haims, Stan Chan, Art Jackson and Brad Williams. Each artist works extensively with reclaimed materials, finding ways to create new treasures from broken glass, used blue jeans, rusted metal, discarded bits and pieces, and electrified wood. The show begins with its opening reception Friday, November 15th from 5-7pm and runs through January 3rd, 2020.
I first became enamored with denim jeans after attending an exhibit about the life and work of Levis Strauss at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Previously I hadn’t given much thought to the ubiquitous jeans that I had been wearing all my life. Denim jeans as we know them today were created in 1873 with the introduction of the copper rivet to reinforce the pockets and seams on canvas work pants. California gold miners were in need of durable, long lasting pants and the Levis Strauss Company produced them from a strong sail cloth originally from Nimes, France. The name “denim” is derived from “Nimes”. What I love about the fabric is how each garment takes on the individual shape of the wearer. Much like an old pair of boots or gloves that crease and fold over time, denim jeans start to resemble the bodies that inhabit them. The fabric is so unique, I try to explore the property it possesses . I start by disassembling garments into all the individual parts: waistbands, inseams, and pockets; then put them back together again in a new form. Each pair of pants holds a personal story of the wearer which gets incorporated into my artwork along the way.
Art invites the viewer into the head and heart of the artist. It its a challenge to see differently. Photography and found object sculpture play unique roles within the arts due to their ability to show what IS at the same time as they manipulate the point of view to manifest the vision of the artist.
I have spent my life noticing things about the built world. I notice patterns both designed and emergent; I notice the color, form and scale. Each of my series works to elevate bits of the human-made world that go unseen, ignored, or discarded by capturing a particular element of my noticing: decay, pattern, or color.
I compose my photographs within the camera, moving my body ever closer until the contents of the location, environment, and even subject are lost, and I’ve whittled the thing to its unique core. In my sculpture, I take familiar human-made objects and assemble them into unexpected presentations – by combining multiples together or by cherishing a particular piece within its own frame. In both mediums I strive to recreate the quality that caught my interest – that thing that other people don’t see.
My immigrant parents were able to buy a Victorian house in East Oakland in the 1950’s. My mother lived there for almost 70 years where stuffs have accumulated in the nooks and cranny of the house. When I was a kid, I would bury my treasures in the holes in the wall. I’ve been making shallow wooden boxes and filled small objects in them. The idea was that the boxes represented wall sections of my mother’s house where artifacts got stuck in the crevices. I nailed a clear piece of plexiglass on top of each box and drew forgettable family stories on it. Originally it was texture to obscure the objects in the box.
“I really enjoy the process, exploring all its variations. I like the infinite possibilities I can see in one simple process. I pick an odd material and start working with it, and wait for a feeling that says I like something. I did that with tumbled glass, dry lake bed dust, sand, and a few painting techniques, and reclaiming family photo frames turning them into little framed canvas. I would make art all day if I could. I have 5 – 6 great process directions I can work with until I can work no more.”
“I have always been humbled by the absolute unstoppable power that mother nature produces in all the various ways she unleashes her wrath. I have had some very powerful and awe inspiring moments with our dear mother nature. I had seen a program on the fact that mankind had found a way to stimulate and produce weather. Since I often work with electricity and from one of my near death experiences had understood the amount of respect I had for it. I decided to find a way that I could, for lack of a better word, control it. From that respect and desire to control it, came this form of directing it back into a small piece of nature, and that is wood. I hope anyone who views these pieces finds a bit of joy and beauty themselves.”
This show will be on display through January 3rd of 2020. Please join us for its Opening Reception Friday, November 15th from 5 – 7pm. We will provide refreshments and possibly live music as well.