Art on wheels. You in art. Careening through the night, smashing into other art (don’t do that).
Adam Wohlwend has worked really hard on his Gallery Exhibit Viewing Apparatuses. He has burned the midnight bulbs in the Mattox Sculpture Center for months now – sawing, piecing, bolting, riveting, pinning, glossing, fitting, stretching, joining, testing (I’m guessing at some of these), and you can tell.
Because look at these beauties. Dainty, sturdy, spindle-legged, fake latex and metal carapaces in pop-art colors, decoratively fenestrated.
The idea (one of them) is that you can view art (and be art) via your own moveable stall / pod / wagon / ark/ apparatus. They aren’t death traps. Step inside!
The point is, you’re supposed to step inside, and this Friday, August 19, from 5-8 p.m., you’ll have your last chance to do just that at UNM’s CFA Downtown Studio. Note that unlike Adam’s Mobile Event Viewing Apparatuses, these pieces are meant to stay in place.
If you wanted to run amok at full speed in one of Adam’s pieces dressed as a giant clam, you should have been at the Civic Plaza (Creative 505) or Santa Fe Railyard (AHA Festival of Progressive Arts), or Taos (Paseo 2015). (Someone did that.)
Those were Mobile Event Viewing Apparatuses; these are Gallery Exhibit Viewing Apparatuses, which means they’re tethered down. But you can still insert yourself, cast your eyes around, and look at stationary “place-holder” art (also created by Adam), or other gallery visitors.
What will that bearded guy with the horn-rimmed glasses be eating? Rugelach? Rice crackers? Will he have a third, fourth, fifth glass of wine? You can see! Through the portholes of the exhibit viewing apparatus. Will that small child obey her mother’s instructions not to touch the contemporary art? What are those people doing on their phones? Texting? Googling? WHAT? You can watch them all from the viewing apparatus, and they won’t know.
The thing is that everything is more magnificent, more significant, when viewed through a frame – eyelet, porthole, or window, your attention is forcibly constricted. And it is mere, glorious attention that can transform objects/scenes from blah to art.
Now, let’s turn to Adam for more insight into his mysterious, multi-hued spying machines (he doesn’t call them that). SH= Spartan Holiday, AW= Adam Wohlwend
SH: So Adam, how do you explain your work to others?
AW: I think a lot of people view contemporary art as inaccessible and elitist. My goal is to create a body of work that can be literally and physically accessible to all people whether they understand the finer points of art history or not. I’m creating interactive sculpture that allows people to become a part of the work through the same investigative senses that get them through their daily lives.
SH: (This sounds good to me, and I vow again to get through my daily life with greater use of my investigative senses, noticing, for instance that, while camping, I just tossed my box of matches into a puddle). Adam, how is your current show related to what you’ve done in the past?
AW: Gallery Exhibit Viewing Apparatuses is directly related to my most recent series of works called Mobile Event Viewing Apparatuses. I’m certainly not trying to trick anyone with the titles.
SH: (It’s true. Adam, wouldn’t do that; he is a nice guy).
AW: Both of these series are pieces of sculpture meant for looking at other works of art. They act as viewing windows, or extensions of the art goer’s body, in order to draw attention to how beautiful and essential the act of viewing art is to the art world. They also take into consideration the social aspect of being at art shows or art events. M.E.V.A.s are for viewing public art events, while G.E.V.A.s are meant specifically for looking at art in a traditional gallery setting.
SH: (MEVAs, GEVAs, MEVAs, GEVAs- It’s good to practice so you can say these acronyms over and over at the show- MEVAs, GEVAs. But out loud I say:) How did you learn to build shit?
AW: My father was an union electrician at an aluminum mill, and my mother, before staying at home with my brother and I, was an apprenticing artist, and designed clothes for the family and local theatrical performances. Because of both of them, I always felt comfortable around materials and tools. I remember watching my family do work on houses, build cars, sod lawns, etc. There was usually a family gathering around these events to help each other out. I learned a lot about materials and processes in college, but I also worked years of low level construction labor jobs where I noted how things were made. Mostly, making objects just seems to make sense to me. I close my eyes and start visualizing how things work. Most of my designs start with my eyes closed. I find simple, obvious, and overlooked interactions to be beautiful, so it fits that these pieces are made through simple, honest means.
SH: (I am so impressed by Adam’s resume of hard-won skills, including, but not limited to, sodding lawns, that I don’t know what to say).
What materials are you even working with?
AW: Steel rod, faux latex fabric, bendy plywood, plywood, chrome hardware, casters, linear bearings, cotter pins, water-based high gloss finish.
SH: (Faux-latex?? I wonder, where do I get THAT? And what would I do with it? If I’m honest with myself, I’d probably give it to Adam…)
Adam, what are you going to do next?
AW: I plan on proposing Exhibit Viewing Apparatuses specifically made for existing pieces of art work in a museums permanent collection. Also, I’m considering public apparatuses that can be taken on commutes to work or other city locations. These would be made for specific public interactions like grocery shopping, running errands, simply walking on sidewalks, tandem apparatuses promoting social interaction etc.
Here we stop, because basically what Adam is saying is that you could take a viewing apparatus grocery shopping, and that means everything you see could snap into focus, from banal stacks of colored paperboard and plastic and foil, to art. That box of crackers, that carton of milk…
Meanwhile you would also be art, and fellow shoppers would be like, “Who’s that weirdo inside that exquisite contraption?”
Unless maybe you were at Whole Foods and then they’d say: “Look at that artistic shopper.” Or possibly: “You have to leave our store because you are wrecking our sense of upper-middle-class safety.” Depends on the day, I guess.
The point is, think how your life could be enhanced encountering everything through the window of an Everything Viewing Apparatus.
But for now, let’s just stick to Friday night, August 19. I will be making chocolate raspberry rugelach. You should probably come so people can enjoy watching you eat it.
And you should probably like Adam’s Facebook page for information on more upcoming fantastical events.