Scratching the Surface: Contemporary Wood Sculpture

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Can’t Turn You Loose, 2008 European Olive Burl © Courtesy of the artist
Scratching the Surface: Contemporary Wood Sculpture
Curated by: Ray Leier

5814 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
January 27th, 2013 - May 5th, 2013
Opening: January 26th, 2013 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Tue - Fri 10-5, Sat & Sun 12-6
Wood, wood sculpture, sculpture


LOS ANGELES, CA — The Craft and Folk Art Museum presents Scratching the Surface: Contemporary Wood Sculpture, an exhibition featuring the works of nine contemporary artists whose unique sculptural forms capitalize on the naturally occurring textures and irregularities of wood. This international selection of artists includes Christian Burchard (OR), Todd Hoyer (AZ), William Hunter (CA), Art Leistman (Canada), Pascal Oudet (France), George Peterson (NC), Michael Peterson (WA), Merryll Saylan (CA), and Jack Slentz (NM). The exhibition is curated by Ray Leier in association with del Mano Gallery and will be on view from January 27 through May 5, 2013.

Using both machine-cut and natural surfaces, each of these artists shares a proclivity for working with the grain of wood by reworking its surface via sawing, bleaching, sandblasting, and exposing surfaces to rain, sunlight, and dry heat. Their carving methods range from using the lathe to produce refined shapes, to using chainsaws for unpredictable abstract forms. Relying on a balance of approximation and accident, some of the artists are able to envision how the final artwork will look; while others let the material itself reveal the finished piece.

French woodturner Pascal Oudet uses sandblasting to dislodge the soft wood between the growth rings of the tree. The resulting sculptures are intricate with lace-like surfaces. Oudet describes, “I try to work with these characteristics, playing with the grain through various surface treatments (textures, sandblasting, scorching, colors). Most of the time, I have a precise idea of the piece I want to create, and then look for the wood that will render the effect I’m after.”

Michael Peterson draws inspiration from the natural surroundings of the Pacific Northwest, where he lives and works. Working primarily with a chainsaw, he hollows and carves through damp pieces of wood, which contort into warped form and textures upon drying. “When starting a piece, it's not always best to know where it's headed,” says Peterson. “Rather than thinking my way through a piece, it's more like feeling my way through it.”

Jack Slentz and George Peterson look equally to the natural environment, as well as to designs in the urban landscape when developing concepts. Peterson often carves and paints into recycled wood from skateboards to incorporate an urban motif into his work. Slentz expresses, “The ideas for my artwork come from every day objects, things that we notice and take for granted. Some of the everyday forms I use, as points of departure, are manhole covers, storm grates, and seedpods.”

An opening reception for Scratching the Surface will take place on Saturday, January 26 from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. The reception is open to museum members and the public.

Public programs:
CAFAM will offer exhibition-related workshops and events in conjunction with the exhibition. Other events will include CraftLab family workshops, held on the second Sunday of each month from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 21 | 3:00 p.m.
Artist Talk with William Hunter

Sunday, February 17 | 3:00 p.m.
Artist Talk with Merryll Saylan