22 October 2009

Wicker Art

On my post last week about Borna Sammak's video art installation at a Best Buy, I mentioned that people are rather afraid to buy sculpture because just by having a sculpture in their homes they are going out on a limb and making a bit of a statement that hanging a painting or print or photograph doesn't make.

I think people really want artistic, 3D objects in their homes, they just don't want, you know, sculptures. I think that's why people buy all manner of decorative wicker baskets they never put things in, and decorative candle sticks and hurricane lamps that are never used for illumination, and decorative seagrass balls — whatever those are — like the one from Pier 1 pictured at left. Seriously, look through the "Accent Pieces" section of Pier 1 and tell me people aren't itching to fill up their homes with 3D aesthetic things. (I don't find any of those things particularly aesthetically pleasing, but whoever buys them must.)

These non-functional wicker "accent pieces" reminded me of some beautiful bamboo sculpture I saw at the TAI Gallery, in Santa Fe's Railyard District, two years ago. Perhaps the way to get sculpture into people's homes is to execute it in materials they are already comfortable with. It's a much shorter hop from that decorative wicker basket to a woven bamboo sculpture than it is from the wicker basket to a steel assemblage. Some of the pieces at TAI were almost basket-like in form, but most looked more like visual aids for a high-dimensional topology class. The following three examples are by Honma Hideaki, Honda Syoryu, and Torii Ippo, respectively.

TAI also displayed some excellent tilt-shift photography by Naoki Honjo, which I previously mentioned here.

By the way, if you're doing the gallery scene in Santa Fe, leave some time for the Railyard in addition to the more popular Canyon Road locations. The Rail Yard is a lot more manageable in scale, and it had some really interesting and fun contemporary stuff going on, as well as more restaurants close by and a small but very interesting contemporary museum, SITE Santa Fe.

(I'm going out on a limb with the following, be advised.) I think part of the issue which biases people towards painting and away from sculpture is also price, which I think is related to the ability to make cheaper, limited edition print runs of paintings to subsidize the cost. Sculptural works seem rather more one-off (excepting cast bronzes?), so it needs to be sold more dearly. What can aspiring sculptors do about this? Perhaps get down with fab-labs and various other small-scale, computer-controlled manufacturing to enable batch production. I'm a little hesitant to recommend this because so much fab-lab tech makes things out of epoxies and resins and waxes and such, and those materials look too cheap to command big prices. Maybe in the future that won't be such a problem for a home workshop. (Or maybe it already isn't and I just have old information.)

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