|David Stromeyer, Fugue, painted steel, 2007|
Over the past years we have seen modern sculpture take form in a variety of different ways. Some can be considered groundbreaking, pushing boundaries in lighting, performance, and installation. Although I seem to gravitate towards large outdoor pieces, I have had the privilege to intern for David Stromeyer which I feel is a great example of a modern artist that devotes a great deal of passion towards outdoor work.
In David's sculpture Fugue created in 2007, seen above he demonstrates a rhythm between each component of the artwork. There is a perfect balance in the placement and positioning of each piece of steel. It is if he used some sort of mathematically equation to divide space giving the sculpture a perfect balance between negative and positive space. He further creates a visual interest in the bends he puts in the metal, which gives you a fell they are weightless and taking flight. This airy feel in his composition contradicts the heaviness of the material. There is a consistent pattern in grouping of the plates which he uses color to further enhance the visual dialogue in their relations to each other. Looking at this artwork in a photo does not do it service; it requires a physical interaction with it. After spending ten weeks in Vermont at David's studio, I grew to appreciate this sculpture as well as all the others. The appreciation came by way of some hard work involved in creating work like this. There is no magic wand involved!
David sculpture Taking Flight is a perfect example of the weightless visual effect. I’m using this sculpture as an example of the complex engineering that goes along with erecting work like this. This instillation has twelve individual pieces of steel, but was built and transported in two different components. David does a lot of homework in the studio when it comes to rigging. He has to find the center point to lift the pieces safely and without damaging the art. Most of his studies happen before the art is primed and painted, he photo documents everything to assist with instillation.
David and I are installing the first component of his instillation at his winter home in Austin, Texas. I would like the reader to note the lift points and the difference of lengths in the chain. When I refer to homework in the studio this is what is figured out before the art is sandblasted, primed, and painted.
In the photo above is a great demonstration of scale and creative engineering involved in this complex instillation. Lifting sculpture like this at the right angle takes manpower, cranes, and several different types of rigging hardware. To preserve the paint job we used blankets and nylon slings. A ratchet type come along was also used in conjunction with a crane to get the desired angle to position one section perfectly in to the other section. Once positioned in place it took a slight pry to get the bolts installed.
All great art does not have to be large in scale but an understanding for scale can be helpful when working outside were space could be limitless. I believe David has a great understanding for placement of his work, and awareness of texture that is best demonstrated by his diverse body of work he has created over the past forty years. In our never-ending evolving world, society leans toward public art for cultural identity and pride of origin. I believe the works of David Stromeyer along with others should deserve some attention and be given more opportunities to display art in a public setting for it would improve aesthetics which in turn could improve our quality of life.