At the tender age of 5 years old, I faced one of my greatest toy-related tragedies, when not 5 minutes from returning home with a brand new original (silver-headed) 3 3/4″ GI. Joe Destro figurine, my older brother maliciously pulled it from my tiny innocent hands and blew it’s leg off with an intentionally over-pumped Daisy air rifle. That was 28 yrs ago, but we’ve actually discussed the situation as recently as last weekend. Despite the traumatic experience -or, perhaps, subconsciously because of it- it would only take a few more years before I began removing the legs off of my own action figures myself. The G.I. Joes were easy, because their legs were connected with a little metal hook in the center that was held in place by a thick black rubberband-like chord attaching them to the body. I would disassemble the toys and switch their components with other figures. The creators of Toy Story would have you believe that this was deviant behavior or the actions of a future serial killer, but we were just being resourceful. Similarly, when we didn’t have the right characters, certain figures would have to fill in, like Shakespearean (or Monty Python) actors dressed like women. When the backdrops weren’t available, makeshift vehicles and environments were constructed out of whatever could be stacked, fastened, fused, or mounted together.
I have plenty of memories from jr high and high school where I would be bored to death in my room, when I was supposed to be working on some bullshit project or studying for a test. There were even times when I spent the evening going through my sketchbook, speed drawing and backdating illustrations to feign scholarly diligence and make it appear as if I had been doing my daily updates for art class the entire quarter. These were supposed to be avenues for creativity, but they didn’t feel very creative. Instead of focusing on the homework that I was supposed to be focusing on, I would gravitate towards doings things like wasting an entire bottle of Elmer’s glue by trying to adhere a large pyramids worth of AA batteries together or uncoiling a heavy-gauge brass spring and applying a bottle cap to make it resemble a cold mechanical daisy, complete with pennies attached as copper leaves. My little brother found more interest in taking simple electronics apart and playing with their insides. Were any of these deconstructionist acts, either in my adolescence or younger days, demonstrations of high art? Perhaps not, but I definitely seemed to find more of a creative outlet by destroying and/or reconstructing new versions of items than I did with their original forms, or through alternate, more typical/orthodox means of expression. But when you really think about it, what’s more of a representation of art than standing with your dirty shoes on a chair, anyway? A defined object with a set purpose -in this case, the purpose of providing a surface for your ass to rest in- is instantly redefined with endless applications. Now it’s a step ladder for changing a light bulb. Tomorrow it’s an essential component of a blanket fort. Portland-based artist, Ron Ulicny displays as much of a passion and vision for this type of deconstruction and repurposing of objects as anyone.
By recognizing value in these type of haphazard, mindless “destructions” and object mutations that many of us have caught ourselves partaking in (taking pens apart, stringing paperclips together, pulling off dolls’ heads, what have you), Ulicny has embraced the process and actually managed to translate it into a legitimate art form. His current medium of choice, Ron‘s three-dimensional collage-type multi-media sculptural works, feature various, often disconnected, elements that, when combined, epitomize the concept of something being greater than the sum of it’s parts. Just as fascinating as the contrast between the otherwise disparate items juxtaposed within some of the pieces are the intangible spaces where they seem to effortlessly overlap and merge into something altogether new. Tonight (Thursday March 1st) our friends at the Spoke Art gallery in San Francisco will be debuting an impressive new collection of Ulicny‘s latest work (with a handful of older pieces mixed in).
Here are the details…
via press release:
Spoke Art Gallery is proud to present “new works,” an exhibition featuring Portland, Oregon based artist Ron Ulicny. This marks Ulicny’s second showing with Spoke Art after appearing in last August’s “A Taste of Things to Come.”
In his newest body of work, Ulicny utilizes his fascination with transforming an esoteric plethora of familiar objects, in unfamiliar positions in order to create classic and modern innovative sculpture. “new works” will feature thirteen new pieces, each which present a unique take on the three-dimensional form. As much a craftsman as artist, Ulicny strives for individuality in each of his creations. Instead of merely classifying his work as “assemblage or “found” objects, the artist puts specific intention, meaning and weight behind every detail in his work. Armed with a keen eye for design and illustration, Ulicny pushes boundaries of sculptural work that pushes and pulls the viewer in with both thoughtfulness and humor. With his visceral constructions, Ron challenges our initial perceptions of life, experience and everyday happenstance thus creating simple yet stunning affects.
About the artist:
Born in 1973, Ron Ulicny is an artist, photographer, musician, and craftsman who lives and works in Portland, Oregon. He attended Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts and the Tyler school of art in Philadelphia, PA. In May of 2011 Ron was asked to show his work at the Grand Central Art Center/Cal State Fullerton in Santa Ana, CA. The successful exhibition was entitled “viscurrealistic fabrications”. Later this year you can see more of Ron’s while he participates in “Recycle Reuse Reinvent” at the Chautauqua Institute in New York.
Ron Ulicny’s “new works”
Thursday March 1st 6pm-10pm (opening night)
Show on view through Thursday March 22, 2012
Spoke Art Gallery – 816 Sutter Street, San Francisco CA 94109
Admission is Free!
Check out the Facebook event page through HERE.
And peep out these following sample preview images from the exhibit