Feb. 12 – March 16, 2010
Friday, Feb. 12 Opening Reception: 5-7pm, Artist will be present
Saturday, Feb. 13, Gallery talk by Geoffrey Gorman, “Creatures of Curiosity”, Art, Life, and Challenges”
Title: Creatures of Curiosity
Geoffrey Gorman’s work typically folds together history, real life experiences, and his own colorful imagination. As an artist, he is continually exploring new places within the folds, finding unique sources and materials that will enhance his desired expression. He is always ready for an adventure, and needs no encouragement to travel to unknown places, whether in his mind or in reality. This is evident in animals discovered in the exhibition “Creatures of Curiosity”.
Historically, “Cabinets of Curiosity”, assembled in 16th Century Europe, became the earliest museums, where diverse collections of oddities from around the world could be seen in one place. These “rooms of wonder” contained unicorn horns, mermaid skeletons, stuffed and preserved plants and animals, insects floating in amber fluid, lenses, and obscure scientific instruments. These sumptuous accumulations of unknown and unfamiliar objects were assembled in beautifully constructed cabinets, contained within entire rooms displaying artifacts from floor to ceiling.
“I think of my constructed creations as present day artifacts that might have been collected and assembled in a Cabinet of Curiosity” states Gorman.
The title, “Creatures of Curiosity” is the artist’s adaptation of the original to fit his interest in giving physical presence to creatures that lurk in his imagination. Gorman further states, “Where these creatures came from and what meanings they hold are still unknown. Indicators and clues as to their origins can be found on each creature – but often the markings, materials and methods of construction can be confusing. Studied closely, each creature seems to have similar construction –patterns, tattoos and indications of tribal identification”. Is this a subtle statement about the inner connections of all animals, and maybe all of mankind? Gorman is an avid observer of both the animal kingdom, ancient and contemporary, and of the human species. His work raises questions about links that cannot yet be answered.
With Gorman, one never knows which comes first, the animal or the material. Gorman wanders the arroyos and hills around Santa Fe, accumulating old rusted and weathered materials. Some parts are gifts from interested friends. Gorman recently discovered another great gathering ground, Habitat for Humanity, where used building materials are for sale. Almost every day something different can be found in the bins. An aisle containing old discarded wire initiated thoughts about animals that have distinctive hair. “Dicactylus”, an ant eater, was born with a glorious and expressive tail made of the new wire. He also has armor like covering created from a discarded bicycle tire turned inside out. He is captured mid-stride, his worn underside streaming a strange accumulation of hanging objects. According to his maker, “during his journeys this creature has attracted various talismans to his belly like metal to magnets”.
“Thryonomydae” based on a horned lizard, is assembled from both white and black bicycle tires, along with a variety of nails, screws and rusted bolts. Around his neck hangs an old paint brush and underneath his body other objects dangle down. The pedestal is constructed of cabinet handles, a wheel, and found hardware. He seems to be smiling at his audience and generates sweetness, not usually associated with a lizard. A kindred spirit is “Indri”, an oddly categorized animal that is fish-like. The pangolin is large and acts a little like a tree sloth. This strange looking animal is hunted in parts of Africa and Asia for meat and scales, both of which are thought to have medicinal properties. Gorman’s version is profusely covered with scales of black rubber with rusted metal claw like little toes. Indri has collected a few charms along his way also and has a small wheel on his back which propels him along life’s path. He is both menacing and could become an endeared child’s toy.
To followers of Gorman’s work, he is known to cross the line between warm and affectionate animals to those which are frightening. Deciphering the two extremes is not always an easy task. Ambiguity can be a powerful ingredient in Gorman’s work. He is able to agilely straddle both sides of this dichotomy.
Whether it be a rabbit poised to spring, two birds huddled together, peering felines, quizzical canines, pondering armadillos, a miniature running antelope, or crawling lizards, they will all beckon you to follow them into the shadows of Gorman’s realm of the curiously outlandish and bizarre.
On Saturday, Feb. 13, Geoffrey Gorman will give a gallery talk about his work, this exhibit, and his ideas about art, life, and today’s challenges. There will be ample time for questions and answers. The lively discussion by this effervescent artist will surely warm a cold winter Saturday afternoon.