Updated: Aug 16, 2022
Floyd Gompf (L) and Matt Swenson (R)
As consumer goods are readily thrown away today, it's refreshing to find artists who use our culture's cast-offs as the materials for their work. Meet Floyd Gompf and Matt Swenson, two Michigan-based artists showing at Capizzo Studio from August 25th to September 4th. They both have an eye for repurposing items bound for the landfill and making them beautiful in the process.
Teapots and Robots
At his studio in Lakeside, Michigan, Gompf uses materials in all shapes and sizes, cabinet knobs, Tinker Toy parts, door handles, buzzers, and wagon wheels to make his teapots. That's just getting started with the list of possibilities. Any found object is fair game, and Gompf's bountiful imagination leads to a great variety of designs and color combinations. Obviously, his teapots aren't actually meant to serve tea, but to engage viewers in a whimsical reconsideration of form. There is an element of surrealism in his work as well. The teapots function as something you might encounter in a dream.
I started collecting materials from alleyways in Chicago, architectural salvage stores and flea markets. I especially like wood that was painted and distressed - wood with a sense of history or story behind it.
- Floyd Gompf
Gompf's surrealist lean is also apparent in his other work, particularly his Robots series. He uses a wide range of appropriated materials to render these - casters, reflectors, suction cups, wingnuts, spigot knobs, and scissors to name a few. The finished pieces evoke memories of playing with childhood toys, and at the same time, they might remind you of the sort of robots from 1950s sci-fi movies. Robot Model B-9 from "Lost in Space" comes to mind.
Constructions and Paintings
After graduating with a BA in design from Miami University of Ohio, Gompf went to graduate school at Kansas State University, earning an MA in sculpture and ceramics. He also took courses in ceramics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After completing his studies, he participated in American Craft Enterprise events for 10 years, showing his ceramics during that time before reassessing his career. He said, "I decided the production line of work wasn't the direction I wanted to move forward on." Gompf's Constructions series is part of his experimentation with materials following that decision. This series contains rubber stamp handles, cut-up pieces of ornate wood, and segments of decorative picture frames, among other things, made to resemble bowls, trays, and containers that have an aesthetic rather than a utilitarian purpose.
Constructions by Floyd Gompf
Gompf is also showing his paintings at Capizzo. Like his Constructions, with their richly textured and distressed quality, his impasto application of paint gives a sense of depth and layering to his paintings, animating their surfaces and radiating energy. These works also harken back to an earlier era, and it's this aspect, along with the repurposed materials, that he shares in common with Swenson.
Painting by Floyd Gompf
Swenson's Painting and Collage Works
Matt Swenson is an artist residing in Three Oaks, Michigan. He uses recycled vintage magazine and newspaper clippings, both photographs and text, along with inks and acrylic paints to create collage works of vibrant color that also function as a humorous stream of consciousness cultural commentary.
This work is also reminiscent of pop art and thematically returns to burlesque, pin-up girls, and sexual tension that might remind one of 1950s advertising with well-defined gender roles, underground magazines featuring Bettie Page, or maybe Russ Meyer's cult classic film, "Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill" One of Swenson's clippings reads, "Undercover Girls: Here's a chance to sneak a peek at what Broadway babes cover up!" But the text is never one-sided. Viewing his collage work is like watching a conversation unfold, as one text addition modifies or alters the meaning of the last, taking you in directions you might not expect.
Swenson also has a strong interest in creating celebrity portraits in the same bold colors as his collage works. Included in this series of works are portraits of Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Twiggy, Johnny Cash, and Elvis. A portrait of David Bowie was available, but it just sold.
Another series of portraits seem to be inspired by fashion and travel magazine covers and continues the same multimedia and collage approach as his other large-scale work.
When Swenson isn't making art, he is busy working on custom-painted furniture and signs for his clients in his retail space, Matt Swenson, Inc. in Three Oaks.
Collage and Painting by Matt Swenson
Work by Floyd Gompf and Matt Swenson
On Exhibition at Capizzo Studio
August 25-28, Thursday through Sunday (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
September 1-4, Thursday to Sunday (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Friday, August 26th (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.)
3279 Bluestar Highway, Saugatuck, MI
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