Home > Recycled, Sculpture, Uncategorized, Video > Video: Ironing Board Installation

Video: Ironing Board Installation

Old Growth by Michael Decker, site specific installation art, 2011

A professor once told me of a wealthy client that hired a Minimalist sculptor for a stone work for his back yard.  After a long period of time and considerable expense, the sculptor placed a few massive, rough hewn stones together in a stack.  The patron was furious when the work was unveiled.  As the story goes, the sculptor was screamed at for creating a work that was a waste of time and a waste of a huge amount of money, for a heap of rocks.  The piece was massive, on a scale that it would have cost another small fortune to remove, and its owner was pissed off to no end when he looked at it.  It was  a monument to his own stupidity to spend money on art.

This changed, but it was incredibly gradual.  The owner accepted the fact that the massive sculpture was there and eventually got used to its presence.  He went from hating it to being more neutral toward it.  Over the years, he started to see it differently.  The quality of the stone, its texture, the way light fell on it, its colors and arrangement, all started to gradually sink in.  Then one day, he realized that the sculpture actually was beautiful and elegant.  He loved the sculpture.  Years, or decades, after its placement, someone at a party in the owner’s backyard looked at it and said he hoped the owner didn’t spend a lot of money on this stupid pile of rocks.  The owner told his guest that he was an idiot and didn’t know what he was looking at, nearly screaming at him, having become the sculpture’s biggest defender.

The moral of the story is that you may not understand or know the impact of an artwork right away.  A piece can grow on you, creep up on you or even catch you by surprise.  You can develop a relationship with a artwork, sometimes a dynamic one, over the course of time.

It is with the worst regret that I didn’t get the name of the artist who did the ironing board installation in the video clips I shot above.  I was zipping around the art show and they became a landmark for me in the elaborate maze of spaces filled with galleries and dealers.  (Where am I? Oh, ironing boards!)  I did look at them, because I like art with recycled materials.  My initial reaction was “Hmm. Ironing boards.  Art with manufactured objects.  Well, the world is certainly full of ironing boards.  There’s probably tons of them out there.”  There was care in their composition.  The work was very formal and I was pretty neutral toward it.  I shot some video and headed back through the maze of millions of paintings and sculptures.

Then one morning, months later, I woke up and they were stuck in my mind.  I was dreaming that I was seeing them again: the ironing boards.  Who did the ironing boards?  It was not clear which cubicle space they belonged to.  They were in a wide, open hallway area.  I never found a tag or identifying information, they were in a open gap between many other booths.  The careful placement, the simplicity, the symmetry of them being propped up on end in relation to one another, the clearly defined color palette: I suddenly loved the ironing boards.  They caught me when I least expected it.

I went through all my notes, photographs, business cards and post cards from 2011… nothing.  I was very frustrated because I try to always be precise with the information I gather on my blog.  I was irritated because I try to be careful and journalistic.  This is where a Google search saves my blog post, because I  found the creator:

Michael Decker’s work, Old Growth, is a site-specific sculpture that spontaneously takes its form whenever it is installed. At NEXT PROJECTS, Chicago, 2011, it consists of sixty found metal ironing boards that were designed in the 1950s and have been collected by the artist over the past year. The ironing boards, while purely utilitarian in origin, conjure up references to California’s artistic and cultural heritage. They can be seen as painted panels, minimalist monoliths or surfboards.

The installation at NEXT is the third time that Old Growth has been presented. It was first created for inclusion at Steve Turner Contemporary in November, 2010 when it consisted of forty-two boards and was presented in a small room of its own. It spiraled upward like a pine cone with the boards entwined tightly in various states of expansion. Its second presentation was in the lobby of 7 West 34th Street, New York, as the lobby installation at VOLTA NY 2011. In that presentation, Old Growth’s form was determined by the specific constraints of its site-a busy office building skyscraper. For NEXT PROJECTS, Old Growth expanded to consist of sixty boards with the boards placed vertically in long hallway with the legs expanded to varying lengths. In this way, the boards take on a figurative quality, almost as though they are in conversation.

Decker is a sculptor and installation artist who works primarily with found everyday materials. Previous works were comprised of Beanie Babies, pine cones, pillows, blankets and animal bones. He chooses materials that are accessible, adjustable and portable, enabling him to configure his sculptures under a broad range of circumstances. Born in Spokane in 1982, Decker received a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts (2005). He has had solo exhibitions at Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles (2010); Dan Graham Gallery, Los Angeles (2010) and Circus Gallery, Los Angeles (2009). He lives and works in Los Angeles.  [source]

I can sleep in peace tonight, having corrected the error of not getting the artist’s name or information on the work at the time I saw it.  I am glad I saw it and that the work had an impact.  I may still yet dream of vintage, pastel metal objects.

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