Opening: Saturday, August 11th, from 4:00 to 6:00 pm
David Kimball Anderson doesn’t engage in “artspeak.” What he does do, and has for a long time now, is make art. A telephone interview with the artist reveals that he refrains from speaking about his art as if he were a critical theorist because he prefers to make art rather than discuss it. Nonetheless, he is highly articulate, a kind of Zen warrior of metallurgy.
In his own words, here is the artist’s statement about the exhibition Travel: Rome, Namche:
In 2009 I traveled to Rome for the first time. I did not visit the Coliseum, the Forum, nor other known and trafficked sites. I did, however, in seven days visit only churches, save for one stop in the Borghese Museum where, on a cold January afternoon, I spent an uninterrupted forty-five minutes alone with Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne. Also church. By the end of my stay in Rome I was completely saturated with beauty and prayer.
Some years ago a dear friend of mine was traveling in Nepal. She became quite ill while in the small remote village of Namche. An older more experienced traveler insisted my friend return to Kathmandu as she was very close to death. The urgency of her state of health was such that to survive she would have to fly directly to Kathmandu. The only accessible landing strip was several thousand feet higher by way of a tiny and dangerous mountain path. The villagers put my friend, delirious and alone, on a small pony and sent the pony on its way up the mountain where she was met by a small plane. My friend survived and the pony, of course, made its way back to Namche.
Anderson’s art is as spare and direct as his words, and in that simplicity lies the genius of its poetry. He approaches artmaking with a classical modernism that features fine craftsmanship alongside the frankly beautiful, juxtaposing historical architectural references with a postmodern skewing of function: A vessel becomes a piece of furniture which is, in actuality, a sculpture in the round. For Anderson, the four pieces based on his travels in Rome, and the three about Namche, serve as “visual postcards” from real and imagined travels. For the Rome work, Anderson observed details from architectural elements and sites that are more pedestrian, even semi-industrial, than the grand landmarks most tourists expect to see. For example, as he tells it, “On the back side of the Pantheon, among the condensed layers of structure, little plants and grasses were growing. I include those in my work: something very heavy, weighty, historical, with a sprig of lily or a poppy blossom.” Thus, Anderson’s work combines vernacular culture with nature—nature as found in the mud and rubble of one of the West’s oldest cities, Rome.
The Namche pieces are composed of different materials, with steel as the substructure for cut mahogany, fabric to mimic Nepalese prayer flags, fiberglass, artificial snow, and gold leaf. This work is “not just a travelogue, but is centered on the story [above].” The Namche sculptures—including a pony trough—are more animated and colorful than those about Rome, yet are “deeply serious,” as is the culture at the heart of Nepal.
Anderson’s work is in the following public collections: Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY; National Endowment for the Arts, the World Bank, and the Art Bank/Art in Embassies, Washington, DC; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; The Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA; Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, CA; University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, CA; University Museum, University of Nevada, Reno, NV; San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, TX; New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM; The Albuquerque Museum and the City of Albuquerque, NM; and the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.