Profiles in Dashingness : Artists who get off their Asses
1. AUBUCHON VS. AUDUBON (Audubon no longer running)
on the move: Kimberly Aubuchon, artist, archivist at Artpace, and
founder/curator/gallerist of Unit B (http://www.unitbgallery.com).
November 13, Kimberly was the featured artist in the McNay’s “Artists
Looking at Art” series, in which local art-makers talk about their own
work and works in the McNay’s collection and exhibitions; it’s
cosponsored by the McNay Contemporary Collectors Forum and the
Education department, and happens on the second Thursday evening of
every month—see http://www.mcnayart.org for more info.
Aubuchon opted to address the McNay’s current exhibition, “Prints Gone
Wild,” a superb collection of Audubon prints, several of which have not
been exhibited in many years. In a brilliant nod to edutainment,
Kimberly printed up handouts to go along with her discussion. This
nifty 4-pager, entitled (and emblazoned with nifty nineteeth-century
style typeface) “Audubon, Aubuchon, and the Birds of America,” featured
some handy side-by-side images: John Syme’s 1826 oil portrait John
James Audubon alongside a photo of Aubuchon posing with man-sized
Sylvester and Tweety Bird at (presumably) a theme park; and Audubon’s
1830 print “Wild Turkey” (subtitled, enjoyably, “Great American Cock”)
next to Aubuchon’s 2001 digital sketch “Hand Jive Turkey,” which
references the iconic “hand turkeys” universally executed by
grade-schoolers across our nation at this time of year.
and Audubon share French ancestry, a deep fondness for birds and close
observation of the natural world, and a tight technical focus.
Presenting “Wild Turkey” and “Hand Jive Turkey” together is a smart
move. Though Audubon’s meticulous cross-hatching and compositional
formalism are painstaking as they are harmonious, it’s really
instructive to see Aubuchon’s work next to it and recognize her own
brand of loopy rigor; the deceptively jerky outline rendered by her
computer-assisted drawing is always sure-footed (even when interpreted
in the painting stage), and her saturated color palette is likewise
harmonious and thoughtful. Aubuchon’s not selling herself short, and
embraces without apology cartoonlike themes and gestures; she refers to
her own style as being preoccupied with notions both of the “cute” and
After discussing her work and Audubon’s, we
got to see her felt sculpture installation, "The Gathering", mounted in
the space between the sculpture gallery in the old building and the
Tobin library until 11/30. It’s a funny and visually poetic felt branch
redolent with green felt leaves, upon which perch—and around which
fly—iridescent black felt birds (pigeons and grackles) .She’s been
working a lot with felt, lately, a medium that fits her homespun
aesthetic and outsized imagination—she recently worked on a series of
fantastical felt figures based on Mr. Potato Head while at recent
Ox-Bow artist residency in Michigan.
As if that weren’t
enough, Kimberly ran the Rock n’ Roll half marathon on the 17th. IN the
photo, she’s the fast-as-a-flash figure on the right, in the red
t-shirt, smiling. Whew.
2. DAN SUTTIN: TRULY KINETIC SCULPTOR
also salute Dan Suttin, a local sculptor/ teacher/ designer/ grandpa/
polymath/ polygonal enthusiast (note: into polygons, not polygamy—hi
Mrs. Suttin!), who in addition to making art is a retired math and
Montessori teacher, a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, and
the creator of “Uncle Dan’s Algebra,” a video algebra course targeted
to homeschoolers… and, hell, anybody interested in algebra.
wrote me a charming e-mail after reading my article about the McNay’s
George Rickey kinetic exhibition; turns out, Dan was a student of
Rickey’s at the prestigious Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, about
which he said, “I was not one of his more outstanding students, but I
sure learned a lot there.”
Dan Suttin was exhibiting an
algebraically-infused artwork he referred to as OCTA-TETRA (yes, in
all-caps), which he said “is in part an outgrowth of one of the
assignments we had in Mr. Rickey's "Visual Fundamentals" course,” and
invited me to come take a look. I dragged on down to the Guardian
Angels School of Performance Art space at Blue Star on the First Friday
in November to check out this unexpectedly fabulous, trippily beautiful
polygonal marvel, further-entitled “Variation on the Truncated
Icosahedron” . Suttin painstakingly constructs it, on-site, of special
brightly-colored cardstock (ordered, intriguingly, from Mexico), paper
clips, and glue – it’s made of 3600 pieces, and takes 55400 paper
clips, and many, many hours to construct.
recalls Buckminster Fuller and Louise Nevelson, if they had
collaborated on a ginormous origami project concretizing the music of
the spheres--or octagons, as the case may be. Sadly, I’m fairly
unadvanced in my knowledge of polygonal mathematics (I should probably
order his educational DVD), but even so, I recognized a transcendent
(and fun!) piece of work, here.
THEN I ALMOST KNOCKED IT DOWN. Had I succeeded in doing so, I probably would have suffered an aneurysm.
would no doubt be amazed at Dan’s amassed collection of photographs,
descriptions, and media concerning math and arts education (which, in
Dan Suttin’s world, frequently coincide), his passion for making
mathematics beautiful, and his painstaking, workmanlike approach.
Looking over his copious personal records, I noted that he’s also
constructed a treehouse out of repurposed materials for his grandkids
(Dan and Joy Suttin have eight children and six grandchildren, which
I’m sure has tremendous algebraic significance to those who, um, know
more about math).
IMPORTANT NOTE: Dan Suttin is looking for a
place to permanently house his sculpture! A school, library, lab,
gallery, geodesic dome, mathematician’s club, planetarium, museum, art
space…know of a place? Get in touch with me, and I”ll get you in touch
with Dan. Or go check out Dan Suttin’s website at
http://www.homespun4homeschoolers.com for more info about him and what
he’s up to. There’s an e-mail link at the site.
off-time, like Kimberly Aubuchon, Dan Suttin runs like the wind, and
also participated in the Rock n’ Roll half-marathon.
Whoa. It’s almost like exercise is good for creativity, or something.
NOTE: Please forgive the unruly layout of the images, here--I'm no ace at our vexing Current blog program. I'll bet you can figure out who's who and what's what though. Aubuchon photos courtesy of Rick Frederick, Suttin photos courtesy of Dan Suttin.