Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jane Sauer Essay

August 2012

Geoffrey Gorman continues on his pilgrimage of bringing life to materials that might otherwise turn up in a garage sale at best or in the town dump at worse. Instead of the local art store, he finds his art supplies at the Habitat for Humanity Restore and as gifts left on the gallery steps from adoring fans. He brings together sticks, rusted screws and other metal scrap, washers, bicycle parts, bailing wire, discarded artist canvas and an array of other strange parts to build his own wilderness area streaming with animal life. Some of the residents are “tricked out” with departed screw drivers, vintage keys, wooden balls and other imagined amulets. As Gorman travels through life he finds inspiration from his various experiences. He absorbs everyday events of life and remasters them into notable reminders of how careless we are with the preciousness of being.

There are 3 distinctive thought processes that drive the inspiration for ANIMOLOGY. All are based on Gorman’s knowledge and close spiritual connection with animals. The first body of work continues a path that has led Gorman’s head and mind for many years. A four foot Rabbit, “Rupicapra,” holding 2 balls leads the pack. His sheer size dominates the space in which he stands. His deep blue body with an orange tail and highlights clearly indicate that he is ready for some fun and attention. Decked out in jewelry made of strange shapes and unrecognizable parts further suggest what might be just ahead. Equally exuberant is “Fodiens Lands Feet First.” Three birds in a time lapse study are approaching a delicious feeder of favorite seed. The feeder is only in the mind of the viewer but clearly there is excitement about to happen given the magnificent wing spread of each bird and jewels made of washers. Gorman causes the viewer to question what exactly is considered jewelry and what constitutes a precious metal. The jewels in this case are hardware tin washers.

Wood, cloth, metal, found objects
28" x 22" x 11"

Gorman describes the next group of works as follows: “In this new body of work, my main inspiration has been the political portraits of HonorĂ© Daumier (French 1808 – 1879). Daumier was a French printmaker, caricaturist, painter, and sculptor, whose many works offer commentary on social and political life in France in the 19th century. Other influences have been the steam punk movement, the Broadway play War Horse, the book Watership Down, where animals have been placed into human settings and situations. I have started with animals I have seen in the wild, also ones that might be seen in the southwest, and animals that can be built with wild and funky material, such as river otters, toucans, crows, and rabbits. “For example, in “The Hat Makes the Man: “Vosii & Pavis,” both birds are supposedly fashionably dressed in elegant hats, each wearing sleek black clothing (bike inner tubes). They appear to be challenging each others judgment in fashion. This raises the ridiculous thought of how can a shaped piece of fabric worn on top of the head really be the sum of any animal or man. Gorman continues, “I am also selecting animals that have an affinity or likeness to some of the characters that Daumier created. Just like Daumier capturing the qualities, foibles and vices of man, animals also have those same qualities. I am figuring that just about every animal culture has its hierarchy, just like in the human world, right? I am hoping to capture the humor, humanness, and universal qualities in each of these characters.”

“Vosii & Pavis,”
Wood, cloth, metal, found objects
10 1/2" x 11 1/4" x 5 1/4"

When a recent illness sent Gorman to the hospital, an interesting phenomenon happened in his dreams. For about a week, Gorman was visited by a host of animals. This became the start of the third series of works in the exhibition

Every afternoon right at sunset when it was just starting to get dark, a procession of wild animals would flow into Gorman’s hospital room. Gorman calls them ‘wild’ but in fact they were all familiar to him. “All of them were animals that I had seen including raccoons, foxes, squirrels, deer, bobcats, and a moose. Amazingly enough, one night that moose got up on my bed and rubbed his head against me!”

“The other unique attribute that these animals all had was their color, or absence of it - they were off-white, almost grey. There were no details, just the animal in its outline and shape. As they flowed into the room, they would all sit bunched together on shelves. The groupings were like still lives--but of vibrant, living animals.”

Geoffrey Gorman
Wood, cloth, metal, found objects
21" x 21" x 12"

Gorman has created the animals that visited him. He refers to these pieces as “Spectral Visitor Series.” Each work is the essence of the creature, without a great deal of detail, or ornamentation. “Ceris Waits,” a white fox, appears to have an intense steady stare.Within the gesture is a sense of gentle calling and a face filled with kindness. Knowing Gorman’s past work, “Ceris” appears naked. “Lotor Looking for Crayfish,” a raccoon, has a front leg raised as if in a beckoning motion. He presents in a ghost like body of white with a few lines defining his body and tail. His expression also is one of empathy. Gorman states “I am hoping to capture that purity and spirit of these spectral visitors that was fortunate enough to witness for a brief period of time.”

To followers of Gorman’s work, the materials and fresh ideas are not surprising. His mind is always moving full tilt, even when he is ill. He is a voracious reader in a wide spectrum of subjects. Life is fed by unending curiosity and enthusiasm. All paths lead to the art he creates. For Gorman Art is Life and Life is Art.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Animal Portraits

These two pieces are headed to the Paul Scott Gallery, in Bend, Oregon.