The works of the art of Los Angeles native, Peter Shire (b. 1947) spread across disciplines and bodies of work including sculpture, drawing, combines of ceramics and painting, industrial and furniture design making their mark indelibly today internationally, in the forms of public sculptures, small works in steel, and ceramics, all this after having anticipated postwar artistic movements internationally and on the West Coast where the artist was among few who were pioneering the medium ceramics with a newfound sense of contemporaneousness.
In Shire's oeuvre, gleaned are ebulliently pared-down geometric forms comingling in frenetic plurality as if in a master production of complexity between textures, masses, shapes, references to everyday objects and finishes, giving us the sense of an array of diversity and connection without sacrificing the qualities that are intrinsic to art; the qualities that are particularly human, imperfect and contain rich worlds within them.
Peter Shire was born and raised in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Echo Park where he still lives, teaches and works. Since the 1970's Shire has documented the residents of the neighborhood using a portrait format for his ongoing project utilizing glaze painting techniques on ceramic tiles. Since then, Shire has completed over 500 works which have become an unofficial record of the history of Echo Park. His works have been shown in galleries and museums around the world including the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, Berkeley Museum, Berkeley, California, the Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
The work of Southern California artist George Kalmar is an eye-opening experience into the diversity of natural and plastic surfaces and forms that bring about our awareness upon, as we have come to know, tenuous relationships between nature and mankind. Kalmar’s works in wood, stone, aluminum, plaster and expanding foam are all pursued with an idea of coexistence in mind as the forms he produces often play off one another in a resounding proposal for harmonious and spirited interaction. Kalmar’s forms themselves are arrived at through varying techniques depending on the material and at large represent the origin of the human hand at play in shaping them, to his interest in ideals of shaping human progress.
Kalmar’s ingenuity with materials and forms keeps us surprised with unexpected conceptual approaches as well. The work, Resting (2007) for example is a smooth, rippling body of aluminum and wood halves that form a soft, undulating mass. This sensual and labor-intensive sculpture accomplishes both a cohesion of elements, as well as mastery in thinking about such hard materials as they transform into fluid and serene forms achieving a joyful expression of the body. Throughout Kalmar’s sculptures however, we are consistently brought back to the presence of nature as the underlying subject, not only in the artist’s works, but in our existence, who’s present condition is a deeply resonating force for action within his art.