Still Lives

Anthony Sonnenberg

December 12, 2012

Things that are not what they appear to be fascinate me.

Having been born and raised in a tiny Texas town, where secrets were impossible to keep and gossip was the main form of social currency, I learned from a young age to always look beneath the surface and be suspicious of anything that seems too good to be true. I realized early on that the truth existed neither in the fictions that one sees on the surface nor in the facts that lurk below, but rather in the constantly ongoing negotiation between the two.

My work is a continuation of this negotiation. The work is highly variable in regards to media, scale and materials but it is united by a rigorous multi-layer conceptual construction wherein the main narratives are woven into and placed behind superficial semi-transparent ones. Therefore, while on the surface the works may appear to be solely concerned with frivolities of decadence and technical virtuosity, at their core they are driven by the entire unknowable and tragic nature of the human experience. This driving force is not one that viewers are eager to engage with and so the beauty of the surface is needed to bridge the gap between what I would like to communicate to the viewer and what the viewer is willing to receive.

The works selected for this exhibition are, as the title suggest, centered on the still life genre. This decision was made mainly because still lives have been at the forefront of mind for most of my life. It was by studying the grand Dutch still life paintings of the 17th century that I first started to develop the afore mentioned formula for a multilayer conceptual framework. Their impeccably rendered surfaces scream opulence and indulgence, while the suspicion of the physical world and the specter of death loom just below the surface. I have been exploring notions related to still lives by pushing them into the realm of the abstract whilst playing upon the tropes and visual language of the genre. Although commonly dismissed as hackneyed or banal, I aim to prove that the still life genre has much to offer contemporary art

Swan Song

Greg Lundgren

December 10, 2012

It will make people break laws and protect the poor and fuck complete strangers and do terrible things. This sculpture will make people take care of each other, but not all the time. This sculpture will recalibrate us all – turn us into the things we have been all along.

Sculpture #3

This sculpture didn’t change the world in any substantial way, nor did it sell for a million dollars. It wasn’t even created by a “professional” sculptor, just someone who had an idea that couldn’t quite be expressed with writing or music or painting. It had to be expressed as a three dimensional sculpture, and even with limited talent, that is what he set off to do.

This sculpture took a very long time to create. There were weeks when the artist just walked around his creation, studied it from every angle, puzzled, frustrated, uncertain. He read books, he took classes, this was that important to him – a critical operation – his life depended upon it. And for an entire year, this sculpture just wasn’t quite right. There were parts that were interesting, but it failed to capture his voice, it failed to capture the ideas that his vocal cords and his keyboard were ill-equipped to fabricate.

This sculpture was painstaking. This sculpture was a pain in the ass. This sculpture caused countless sleepless nights. But three years later, the artist (drunk) had his eureka moment, raced out to his garage and spent the next 134 hours frantically capturing the answer that he feared would disappear like the memory of a dream. And one day, this sculpture was finished.

Other people did not appreciate this sculpture. Certainly his friends and family applauded the tenacity of his summit, but strangers – curators, dealers, artists – it just failed to resonate with them. You could say that this sculpture was rather ignored by the world at large.

The artist, elated by his breakthrough, was taken back that others did not see the clarity of his expression or applaud his great feat. He was frustrated that this sculpture did not sway the dealers or the critics or the curators who guarded the gates of contemporary art. This sculpture was shown briefly in the record store his friend Carl owned. This sculpture was donated to an auction for a very good cause but failed to garner a single bid. Years past and the artist maintained his conviction – this was the greatest achievement of his life – this embodied something greater than himself, it defied words and explanation – it was his swan song. He never created another sculpture in his life.

This sculpture was given as a gift to an old girlfriend who bought a big house and had all of this room but no money to purchase furniture or art or much of anything else. For a few days this sculpture looked good in this big, clean, empty house, but as other stuff came in, as rugs and couches and track lighting were installed, this sculpture sank back into unassuming mediocrity. It gathered dust. It was moved into the office. It was moved outside next to the pond. And one day her interior designer put his foot down and had this sculpture taken to a local Goodwill, where it was priced very reasonably. And on half price pink tag day, a local book dealer purchased this sculpture for $15.49, took it home and wrapped it in carpet remnants. His four cats absolutely adored it.