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Chicago Art Magazine | Chicago Artists' News

Chicago Art Magazine

August 16, 2011 Issue

I've always had creative instincts. I've done paintings, architectural miniatures, and sculptures to feed my creative obsession. I believe most artists look for their own uniqueness or niche. I've tried to separate my work with what I call “Construction Sculptures” The pieces that I create have an architectural lineage; definitive lines, angles, and space. I wanted to avoid the concepts of what one may think of when the term sculpture is used.

When I have an idea for a new piece, I generally envision where the piece might be displayed. One example is “Cityscape”. I envisioned this piece in the entryway, concourse, or foyer of a municipal building. The large size of the work, and the softness of the wood, would produce an interesting relief from the hardness of marbled walls or the coldness of concrete. “Cityscape” won the Hard Rock Hotel Award at the Art Loop Open, 2010, and is on display at the Hard Rock until October. I felt “Opus # 6” would display well in a music room. (River East Art Open, Chicago 2010)

I never do sketches of my work prior to building them. I feel that would limit me to a blue print and choke off the creative spontaneity that drives the placement of each piece. I do have a mental picture of where I want to go. As each section is created, it is necessary to mentally anticipate what would work next.

It's very rewarding seeing these pieces exhibited with “traditional” paintings and sculptures. They have always attracted noticeable interest from exhibit goers. Sitting amongst the other art, they capture the setting in that “they belong”.

Though each piece has an orientation, these can be viewed from any angle. There is always something interesting that will catch your eye. Their complexity and linear cohesiveness give them an almost kinetic sense. My photographer, Dan Blaim, has an artful eye and has snapped some great close-ups that demonstrate this sense. One particular nuance that Dan liked in virtually all the pieces, a cylindrical hole, I've termed the “Blaim effect” in his honor. I mention this because it is part of the fun that art can bring. To Dan and me, it was a respectful tongue in cheek reference. We have also had some fun in titling the pieces. One particular piece brought an evening of fun with Dan and our friend Bill. We had cocktails and hors d'oeuvres as we sat staring and discussing a meaningful title. My friend Jim who lives in New Orleans sent in a proposed title. We had his offering sealed in an envelope on an empty chair. Once we had a list of titles, we opened the envelope the reveal his title. The winner received a cigar. Bill won. I used the title that Jim sent for a painting. Aside from the personal outlet and satisfaction I personally get from my art, sharing the fun with my friends is a plus by-product.

I enjoy doing commissions. The solicitor will give me some vague parameters that I can chisel into a defined piece. One particular commission required a cube theme, set in a 12”x12”x12” cube. That was the directive. The simplicity of a cube became a wonderful challenge. I integrated cube structures artfully placed and integrated inside the 12” cube that came out terrific. The owner liked the piece. Satisfaction. Success.

Another interesting aspect of my art is that a lot of the material used would potentially have been tossed into a landfill. “Waste into art” is another reward of my work. I am constantly picking up scraps that catch my eye for future pieces. Whenever I begin a new piece, I will scatter hundreds of pieces of scrap onto a big work table. It looks like a treasure to me. It's up to me to extract the value that is hidden in the pile.

Another rewarding validation for my work was being nominated as a “Chicago Artist to Watch” by the Chicago Artists Coalition (Dec., 2009 issue)

I learn and discover from every work that I produce. My work is constantly evolving, and I look forward to my next sculpture. Ideally, I would like to get a commission to do a very large on-site piece.

Stairway To Heaven” was an award winner on Art Slant, 2011.The “Tower Of Babel” got its title from the 25 varieties of wood used in its construction.

-------------- Kip Pasta


Chicago Artists' News
Nominated as a Chicago Artist To Watch

Volume XXXVI Number 11, December 2009

You have been on & off with your art for most of your life. Please explain when you decided to focus more time on your craft.

I decided to focus on my art when I lost my mid-level corporate job. This event afforded me the time to make a dedicated effort to develop a plan for my art. It was a creative period that has kept me focused on something that I have always been passionate about.

Would you say the need for creative expression, the "I have to get this idea out of my head and make it real" is an obsession?

Obsession is a good way of explaining the motivation and drive to express creative ideas. To complete these sculptures, with their detail, takes a lot of tenacity and willingness to drive your ideas home. Once an idea comes to mind, it's hard not to begin executing a new work. It's like an appetite that needs to be fed.

Your sculptures have a virtual Jackson Pollock-like detail to them. Would you say that is accurate? Does he inspire your work?

Likening my sculptures to anything by Jackson Pollock is an extremely flattering way of describing my work. When I view a Jackson Pollock painting I sense his passion and intensity. I see him working at a creative pitch in his studio. In that sense he is an inspiration. What he did was not easy. My sculptures are not just pieces of wood glued and nailed together. To obtain space and linear cohesiveness that my work demonstrates takes thoughtful creativity and an artful sensibility. My sculptures are abstract, and when done properly, I believe they are passionate, or can motivate a passionate response from the viewer. The work has an almost kinetic value. As they are viewed, I think different levels of discovery are sensed. I call these art pieces “Construction Sculptures” because of their architectural lineage. Also, calling them “sculptures” brings to mind images that are non-consistent in what I do. I wanted to separate my work into its own arena. Therefore, “Construction Sculptures”.

Are you more confident in your sculptures or your paintings?

I am more confident in my sculptures than in my paintings. My skill level with my sculptures allows me to present quality work. My painting skills need more development, although, I enjoy both.

Do you have an artist or architectural background?

I do not have an artist or architectural background. I am completely self -taught. The linear neatness of architectural design has driven ideas into my work. I titled my website “outsidethegallery.com” because of my self-training.

Were you always comfortable with tools and know the kinds of wood before building your "construction sculptures" or did you learn as you go?

I have always been comfortable using tools and it's fun see to how sure- handed you can be when you know what you want to accomplish on a piece.

Do you make sketches of your sculptures before you begin building the six sided work?

I don't do sketches of my work prior to beginning. Sketching the work prior to start-up would limit me to a blue print. That would stifle spontaneity. Working in three dimensions lends itself to multiple creative changes. Once a portion is completed, re-evaluation is contemplated, and “linear movement” of the piece dictates my next step. There is no designated end point in my work. When it's done, I know it; nothing more needs to be added…it's just right.

When starting a sculpture you stated that you always think of a specific place or environment before building. How does the potential environment influence each work?

I think of a specific environment when I have an idea for a piece. It helps me stay focused. One example is “Cityscape”. I envisioned this piece in an entryway, concourse, or foyer of a municipal building. The large size of the work, and the softness of the wood, would produce an interesting relief from the hardness of marbled walls or the coldness of concrete. “Opus #6” was designed with the idea of being placed in a music room with a piano dominating the space.

So the reader can understand what they are viewing, please describe the average size piece inside the overall 25" x 25" x 66" size work and how many different kinds of wood are used.

In the work “Tower of Babel”, the individual pieces vary in mass from ½” to 6”. I used twenty three varieties of wood. Zebra wood and Purple Heart are a couple of my favorites. The title came from the many species of wood used.

How have you noticed your work maturing? What are you envisioning your next work to be?

I believe my work is maturing in the respect that each piece completed brings a higher level of confidence. The higher your confidence, the more creative risk you are willing to take. I hope that my next project is a commission. My medium and skill would be tested by a commission. I look forward to it. I have new projects festering constantly. There are new aspects of these sculptures that I want to try. Trying to explain these aspects would be difficult. Though I have some ideas about where this will take me, I really can't test the ideas until I can study them as I construct them. Many small nuances come together to make a completed piece. The constant newness in these works and the opportunities to make new things are a part of a very strong motivation.

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Photography by Daniel Blaim