On January 24 our long-awaited exhibition at the Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, Indiana opened with a big reception. I say “our” because this is a two person show featuring work by R. Michael Wimmer and yours truly. The exhibition in entitled “The Potential in Everything” because both Michael and I utilize a diversity of materials to make our art. While I depend on what I find at the river, Michael goes much further afield to locate objects that project a certain “aura” and associative power for him. Following are some images from the exhibition which will be up until April 5.
I brought about 25 pieces that I had saved from the river and park visitors. I have gotten into the habit of keeping some of my better creations for events like this. It’s such a big leap first seeing the work at the river and then in a more formal art space where everything is displayed, labelled, and illuminated with care.
The other extreme is having several rooms full of friends, family, and assorted art lovers coming out on a very cold night to take in this exhibition. A wonderful jazz band provided music. At times, it was hard to see the art because of the people…which is a great situation to be in and I felt very lucky. I know I did a lot of talking and meeting people who said that they knew my work through this blog. This happened more than once and it made me feel good that local people were checking out my river adventures online every now and then. I returned to the center the following day so I could get a better look at the show and to take a few more pictures. Overnight, it snowed two to three inches while we slept.
Both Michael and my sculptures are assembled. He favors a wider variety of materials and I have over time evolved a vocabulary of forms and found materials that I prefer. The pieces I’ve saved function for me as mostly a means to an end. The story telling aspect of my work has been the biggest shift in what I do over the years and it has caused me to reassess my priorities when I go on location. I was pleased that people thought the stories added something extra to the artworks. Wall labels had excerpts from my river tales and I supplied a binder with printed stories that accompany many of the objects on display. It takes the pieces away from being strictly artworks as usual. I do, however, try to make compelling sculptures to help activate the spaces I work in and to assist in creating interesting images. The tall figure in the foreground is entitled “Cycladic Oarsman” and was made specifically for this show. I gave it this title because the face has some similarities with very early Greek marble statuary.
Karen Gillenwater, the Carnegie Center’s curator did a fine job of pairing artworks together and finding what Michael and I have in common artistically. Both of us have channeled John James Audubon and bird imagery. The naturalist’s earliest attempts at drawing birds happened in the Kentuckiana area during the early nineteenth century. Over the years I have made several Audubon figures and most of the birds I’ve created are creatures he never encountered in America’s pristine wildernesses.
The Styro-fish I’ve made stand near a wall piece that Michael did about the deteriorating marine environment where he lived for a while in Florida. My fish are made with some of the junk I’ve removed from the Ohio River. Michael now makes his home and studio in New Albany. Both of us are also fond of time references. My stuff flirts with time on a number of levels including quantum mechanics. Clock faces and dials appear in many of Michael’s Carnegie pieces and some of his sculptures are also working clocks. A good friend of mine once told me that much of life is what we decide to spend time on and that seems true for both artists in this exhibition. I appreciate that the Carnegie Center for Art and History believes it is important to generate good quality materials to help supplement an exhibition. The staff at the center produced a wonderful gallery guide, show announcement, a banner that hangs from the building’s facade, a poster, and both Michael and I have the opportunity to give gallery talks and lead workshops. I may never have a chance like this again where the hosting institution helps the artists out as much as the Carnegie Center for Art and History does. I know of many regional and local artists who feel that this is what makes showing at the Carnegie such a treat. The exhibition continues outside and both Michael and I have works positioned in front of the building. Here is Michael’s piece and all the work’s components find similarities with details and materials on the building.
My piece is my long, beaded necklace made from softball cores and is entitled “La Belle Riviere” which I originally displayed at the Falls of the Ohio in October of last year. It was quite a production and required a bucket truck and a worker supplied by the city to hang the piece in the tulip poplar tree outside the center. For now, I will close with this image and look forward to my next post as the Artist at Exit 0. Stay warm everybody.