-By Tim Bruckner
If you’re a free-lance, hands-for-hire sculptor and you’ve been lucky enough to have a successful career, any personal work you accomplish is sandwiched between deadlines. I’ve been a free-lancer for forty-right years and have tried, as time permits, to explore my own vision and create art that reflects who I am and what moves, motivates, delights, confuses and confounds me. In putting together my solo show for Krab Jab Studio (www.krabjabstudio.com) with Julie Baroh, I’ve been able to pull from work produced over the past fifteen or so years and to create new work specifically for the show. Every piece is like page from a diary. It chronicles who I was and where I was at the time. I was asked to write something about each piece in the show. Some were easier to review than others.
'He Who Laughs Last' (above) was a piece I explored three different times, and had been able to dodge the truth of what I was trying to do with the first two versions. I think it’s easier to deal with the mortality of others than one’s own. People come and go, and we mourn them and miss them. Part of who they were in our lives stays with us, becomes part of us. With the third and final incarnation I was able to own up to and deal with how I felt about my own mortality. Something I’d been able to avoid with the first two. Hiding from myself, I discovered, can be a sorrowfully easy thing to do.
Every piece tells a story and over time the narrative has shifted for me. 'A Little Mischief' (above) and 'Something to Consider' (above) are both exercises in exploration of expression, an effort to engage the viewer in a conversation. With Mischief, we get a sense he’s settled on a course of action. And we see him weighing out. Something to Consider is him undecided. He’s listened. Some of what he’s heard makes sense. Now, needs to decide how much and what to do with it. These are my takes on these characters. My hope is that the viewer will engage in a conversation of their own, relative to their own personal experience.
'Anne Phibian', (above) is about the perception of beauty. Some pieces in the show are attempts to solve design issues or to expand the application of various materials. Some of are interpretations. Others are a wink and a nod designed to illicit a smile.
All the work in the show has a certain aesthetic that is intimately tied to the way I work, born out of the way I’ve made my living. The material and methods I’ve used is produce a Superman or Wonder Woman statue are the same ones I used to create each piece in this show. I’ve been told more than once that my work doesn’t look human made. It’s a little too slick, bears too close a resemblance to product. I don’t see that as a problem. Pieces like 'Fatal Attraction' (above) and 'Octopus Laments' ( below) deal with difficult issues. 'Fatal Attraction' addresses the issue of obsession.
When we invest a disproportionate devotion to a thing, a person, a situation, to the exclusion of reason, the price is often our own destruction. With 'Octopus Laments', its unrequited love. It can go a thousand different ways, but in the end, it comes down to the misery of what we think we need and what we cannot have. It’s been my experience that its easier to initiate a dialogue about difficult issues without shaking the disapproving finger and that’s what I’d hope to do with these two pieces.
One of the most significant things about doing work for the show has been how dramatically the design process changed for me. It started with the 'IMAGINE' (above) piece for the John Lennon themed show at Krab Jab last May. I had retired from doing commercial work and had time to think about what I wanted to do without having to worry about a deadline forcing my hand. It was a difficult adjustment. Surprisingly so. The first designs for the piece were influenced by the way I’d explored personal work before. Hurry up, get it done. That’s good enough. When I was able to settle back a bit and reconsider, the design expanded. And as the design opened up, it presented me with practical problems I hadn’t dealt with before and I gave myself the time to solve them.
And that led to 'I Am The Walrus' (above). We’ve all had that lightbulb moment. Hearing that song on the radio all those years ago was one of mine. It was the most visual piece of music I’d ever heard. It only took me forty-nine years to interpret it as a sculpture. Walrus is the most ambitious piece I’ve ever attempted. Once I’d finalized the design, it took days to figure out how to engineer it and just as long to figure out how to get to Krab Jab in one piece. If you know the song well, there’s lots of clues. If not, there still lots to look at and hopefully enjoy.
For an artist whose career has been focused on commercial work, this show dedicated to my personal work has been a dream come true. And it could never have happened without the vision and support of my friend and colleague, the remarkable Julie Baroh.
I have no clue what the future will bring. It’s unlikely I’ll be able to mount an exhibition like this again in my lifetime. I have thought about returning to illustration and to continue writing. Had not this show come about, I doubt I would feel as comfortable as I do about exploring other means of expression. A big thank you to my family and friends for their love and support over the years. None of the good I’ve been able to do would be possible without you.
Tim’s body of work sits in a strange no-man’s-land that most artist’s find frightening and uncomfortable: in the move from the world of working in a commercial setting to a fine art gallery setting, there is this pause point, a quiet spot. Artists have a hard time with this place (“Will they like me, will they want my work? Will they want to see more?”), and it’s where curators like me come in and gently lead the artist across. Viewers and fans must also be guided; this is new to them as well, and a little wonderful, but completely unlike what they expected. We curators understand the game of timing and patience: the pause is often followed by applause.
With “Well Played”, Tim broke from the rigors of selling a product to searching for the narratives that sell a vision, in the form of sculpture in his case. It’s HIS story, not DC Comics, or another artists’ character he modeled into 3D. He’s at the top of his game here, and it’s clearly his best work. But gone are the familiar Supermans and Wonder Womans, replaced by the less familiar Something to Consider and Absolute Woman. 40+ years culminates in one room, created without a doubt by a Master, but now he spins the stories and we, we get to walk new territory with him. It’s an exciting place for me, this no-man’s land, and I was honored that Tim chose Krab Jab Studio as the launching pad for what is clearly the next level for both Tim and his fans, both the longtime ones as well as the recent converts. Encore, Maestro! Well Played!
-Julie Baroh, January 2016