Down the sidewalk, up the stairs, down the hall and into the studio, an artist practices his craft in a downtown studio using materials to experiment with concepts and materials that, at least in these parts, are out of the norm. Inside the studio, two tall columns of clear, plastic bags seal and protect long lengths of yarn that loop and twist into mangled nests. Each bag contains a dismantled sculpture created by an artist who describes his work as “delicate and temporal.”
Gregor Roth uses black and grey yarn to create the illusion of volume. In January 2013 he created a site-specific installation within the Allen County Public Library’s Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery. Parallel lines stretched from one side of the room to the other, connecting in such a way that allowed Roth to develop “structural drawings in space” which he conceptualized and built during business hours, all the while watching people walk past and even through his work.
“I like to play off the space that I’m inside of,” says Roth, whose goal is to change a visual form into something in which viewers can participate. Walk into a gallery housing his work and you literally walk into Roth’s sculpture. With yarn lines that stretch from wall to wall, his sculptures envelop you physically, challenging you to simply reconsider a space that has possibly become ordinary.
The decision to use only black and grey yarn keeps the viewer’s focus on the forms. The dark lines allude to graphite, a material Roth is extremely familiar with. Roth’s sculpture evolves from his strong foundation in drawing. Working with a two-dimensional medium, he seeks to create drawings that appear sculptural.
“I’ve always wanted people to look at what I do and feel as though they could be inside it,” he explains.
Roth started drawing as a child.
“My dad showed me how to draw the cube when I was five, and I was hooked,” he says. In college he was inspired by Michelangelo’s figurative work because of its sculptural quality.
“The drawings look as though you could pick them up and turn them around,” he says.
Roth’s command of pencil allows him to execute any thoughts he may conceive. As cool jazz notes permeate his studio, he steps across the room to retrieve one of the many sketchbooks he has collected, each one filled with drawings that record ideas and concepts left to simmer and fully develop when the time is right. He opens the book to share a page he sketched during a visit to the Guggenheim in New York City. While contemplating the display there, Roth found himself more interested in the shadows cast in the sunlit atrium of the museum than the featured exhibit, and he sat down to draw and capture the unusual shapes in his book.
Roth let the idea rest for two years. In June 2013, he hung large sheets of paper down his studio walls and enlarged the shadow-shapes, drawing them on a grand scale. Intrigue with volume and space pulled his creative process farther along and led him to transfer the now giant shadows onto sculptural material. Working through a “progression and investigation of size and volume,” Roth carefully cut the shapes from sheets of construction Styrofoam, making sure to work carefully around the delicate sections that could easily snap themselves off. After painting the pieces in gray and black, Roth realized his sculptures projected a cold vibe he describes as “lonely, old and forgotten.” With a bit of added texture and a switch to yellow paint, he changed the emotion of his work to “warm and inviting, all with the use of color.”
While 2D drawings led Roth to create sculptures with yarn and the flat shadows captured from the Guggenheim led him to construct larger-than-life 3D forms, his process often works in reverse.
Strips of paper towels pulled from the roll hang on the wall opposing his sculptures where Roth is recording his interpretations of form on a flat surface. Paper toweling allows Roth to make his drawings as long as he wants, and the texture lends itself perfectly to grabbing pigmented particles of chalk, colored pencil and ink. The chalk is applied with cotton balls.
“I’m trying to stay fluid and loose with these, adding chalk first, then pencil and finally pen. I like to explore new materials,” he explains.
Conversation led Roth to pull out another sketchbook, this one handmade with tiny stitches binding the edges of the cover that held together a collection of accordion-folded pages. Unfolding these pages led Roth to open yet another book, this one made in Tibet and filled with handcrafted paper. Roth’s work is driven by the documentation and personal reflection he records in his books.
“I like documentation. Document everything,” he says. “You never know when you need to go back and draw upon something.
“Documentation also brings clarification and promotes growth overall. I think it is important to write in relation to the work you are creating. I ask myself, what am I doing with these?”
Roth’s thought process is what sets him apart from many artists. He long ago mastered the ability to draw likenesses with a skill level to impress, but he is more interested in the thought that supports an art piece. Inspired by artists Hans Hoffman and Richard Serra, he became more interested in abstract work and the thinking behind the art. While abstract contemporary work may appear simple and “easy” to an untrained viewer, the thought process leading to new concepts can be grueling and head-spinning.
For example, Roth explains the six principals influencing perception in relation to his Drawing in Space series and defines perception as “a response to factors of concept, space, sculpture and engagement,” before going on to say, “These compose the gestalt of the situation and provide opportunity for individual experience defining a sense of belonging.”
Because contemporary work is often misunderstood, it is also under-appreciated.
“Even more than that,” says Roth, “thinking-art is de-emphasized and devalued.” He stands with conviction alongside many contemporary artists who believe that, just as science is a way of interpreting the world, so is art.
“What separates science from art is that science is wrapped in absolutes of data and equations. An artist looks at other explanations and other ways to see things in a new way by including how we interact with the world.”
Roth is using art as the vehicle to navigate and document his human experience. He often feels isolated as an artist and has yet to find another in this area developing similar concepts. He craves another brain to bounce ideas to.
“For a long time I didn’t understand what I was doing,” he says. “It has been scary, stressful, exciting and liberating.”
As he cycles through work, flowing from 3D to 2D and back again, Roth continues to develop a deeper understanding of our world and takes note of details that most people would never consider examining. He brings forth common bits of life such as shadows or empty space and transforms those things into tangible, visual forms, bringing them to our attention in a way that promotes thought and contemplation. His work invites viewers to participate, explore and contemplate our world.
Roth is an artist who thinks deeply and hopes that he can stimulate the same sort of thought in those who experience his work.
Saturday, April 29
Click on the headings below for full calendars
Click header for complete Things To Do calendar
Fort Wayne March for Babies — 3.5 mile walk to support March of Dimes, 8:30 a.m. Saturday, April 29, Headwaters Park West, Fort Wayne, 918-6343 (register at marchforbabies.org
Michiana Wine Festival — Local and regional wine sampling, live music, 5K, and more, 12-6 p.m. Saturday, April 29, Headwaters Park East, Fort Wayne, $10-$35, eventbrite
Touch-a-Truck — Over 50 vehicles including limos, fire trucks, police cars and tow trucks for children to explore, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturday, April 29, Northeast parking lot, Ivy Tech Community College, Fort Wayne, free, 480-4120
Tour for the Blind and Visually Impaired — Guided tour of the Expressions of Existence exhibition, 10 a.m. Saturday, April 29, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, free with museum admission ($6-$8, free to FWMoA members), 422-6467
Click header for complete On the Road calendar
Click header for complete Music & Comedy calendar
4 Clicks North — Variety at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 482-6425
Big Dick and the Penetrators — Classic rock at Danny's Sports Bar, Barbee Hotel, Warsaw, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 574-834-1111
Brent LaCasce Quartet — Jazz/variety at Club Soda, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 426-3442
Cougar Hunter — 80s glam rock at Rusty Spur, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m.-2 a.m., $10, 260-755-3465
Fort Wayne Karaoke — Karaoke at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10:30 p.m., no cover, 483-5526
Fort Wayne Philharmonic — Philarmonic Pops performance of music from Star Wars at Embassy Theatre, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., $29-$72, 424-5665
He Said She Said — Variety at Mitchell's Sports Bar & Neighborhood Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $3, (260) 387-5063
Hubie Ashcraft — Acoustic at Michiana Wine Festival, Headwaters Park, Fort Wayne, 3-4 p.m., $10, 710-0199
Hubie Ashcraft Band — Country at The Venue, Angola, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $3, 665-3922
Joe Stabelli — Jazz at Don Hall's Gas House, Fort Wayne, 5:45-9 p.m., no cover, 426-3411
Jon Durnell Band — Variety at Beamer's Sports Grill, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m., no cover, 625-1002
Kat Bowser — Variety at Don Hall's Guesthouse, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 489-2524
Mark Garr and Blues Trio — Blues at Eagles Post 3512, Fort Wayne, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 436-3512
Oferle — Variety at Two-EE's Winery, Huntington, 7:30-9:30 p.m., no cover, 672-2000
The Rescue Plan — Rock at O'Sullivan's Italian Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 422-5896
Samuel Harness Music w/Sunny Taylor, Hubie Ashcraft, Moser Woods — Variety at Michiana Wine Festival, Headwaters Park, Fort Wayne, 12-6 p.m., $10-$35, eventbrite
Shane & Eric — Acoustic at Country Heritage Winery, LaOtto, 5-8 p.m., no cover, 637-2980
Todd Harrold & Nick Bobay Duo — R&B/blues/variety at American Legion Post 148, Fort Wayne, 7 p.m., no cover, 423-4751
Tone Junkies — Rock at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., cover, 483-1311
Click header for complete Karaoke & DJs calendar
Ambitious Blondes Karaoke — Variety at Office Tavern, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 478-5827
Bucca Karaoke w/Bucca — Variety at Tower Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-6310
Classic City Karaoke w/Bryan Lee — Karaoke at Corner Pocket Tavern, Fremont, 10 p.m., no cover, 495-9255
Classic City Karaoke w/Tobin — Karaoke at Toad's Tavern, Monroeville, 10 p.m., no cover, 623-6226
DJ Shawn — Karaoke/variety at Club Paradise, Angola, 10 p.m., no cover, 833-7082
Fort Wayne Karaoke — Karaoke at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10:30 p.m., no cover, 483-5526
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Brian — Variety at AJ's Bar and Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., , 434-1980
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Josh — Variety at Arena Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 557-1563
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/TJ — Variety at Chevvy's, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-4748
House DJ — Variety at Early Bird's Ultra Lounge, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., cover, 483-1979
House DJ — Variety at Flashback on the Landing, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., cover, 422-5292
Karaoke — Variety at Crooner's Karaoke Bar, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-3 a.m., no cover, 486-1979
Live DJ — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Rockstar Karaoke & DJ w/Scotty — Variety at Pine Valley Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m., no cover, 490-9464
Shooting Star Prod. w/Barbie — Variety at Uncle Lou's Steel Mill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-5787
Shooting Star Prod. w/Stu — Variety at Pike's Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 478-6200
Click header for complete Stage & Dance calendar
Funny Little Thing Called Love — Romantic comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Home and Jamie Wooten, 7 p.m. dinner, 8 p.m. curtain, Saturday, April 29 and Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 and May 12-13, Arena Dinner Theatre, Fort Wayne, $40 (includes dinner & show), 424-5622
The Little Mermaid — Fort Wayne Civic Theatre musical based on the Disney movie, 8 p.m. Saturday, April 29; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 8 p.m. Friday, May 5; 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. Saturday, May 6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, Arts United Center, Fort Wayne, $17-$29, 424-5220
Little Shop of Horrors — IPFW Department of Theatre performance of Alan Menken-Howard Ashman musical comedy, 8 p.m. Saturday, April 29, Williams Theatre, IPFW, Fort Wayne, $5-$18, 481-6555
Next to Normal — Tony Award- and Pulitzer-winning musical about coping with mental illness, 8 p.m.Saturday, April 29; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, May 4-6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, Three Rivers Music Theatre, Fort Wayne, $10-$20, 498-2270
The Taming of the Shrew — William Shakespeare’s now somewhat controversial comedy about the battle between the sexes, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29 and Friday-Saturday, May 5-6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7; 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 12-13, First Presbyterian Theater, Fort Wayne, $12-$20, 426-7421 ext. 121
A Wrinkle in Time — all for One productions’ adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s young adult science fiction novel, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 5-6; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 7, PPG ArtsLab, Auer Center for Arts & Culture, Fort Wayne, $11-20, 422-4226
Click header for complete Movie times
Click header for complete Art calendar
37th National Print Exhibition — Juried exhibition featuring contemporary printmakers from around the nation, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
41st SOCA Student Exhibition — Works from students currently enrolled at USF’s School of Creative Arts, daily thru April 30, Weatherhead Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Diane Allen Groenert — Exhibition of local artist’s Downtown Series and new works, Monday-Saturday thru June 24, West Central Microcreamery & Cafe, Fort Wayne, 415-9293
Echolilia — Works from Timothy Archibald and his autistic son, Eli, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Expressions of Existence — An exhibition of works by artists through history, including Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Francisco Goya and others whose works have been influenced by disabilities, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Fort Wayne Artist Guild Exhibitions — Works by Alice Siefert at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Jennifer Caudel at Allen County Retinal Surgeons, Anita Trick, Citizens Square (2nd and 3rd floors), Darlene Selzer Miller at The Einhaus Group for Women’s Health, Patricia Weiss at Heritage of Fort Wayne, Emily Jane Butler at Ophthalmology Consultants (Southwest), Linda Binek at Ophthalmology Consultants (North), Carolyn Stachera at Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Wayne, John Kelty at ResCare Inc. Adult Day Service, Wiletta Blevins at Town House Retirement, Karen Bixler at Visiting Nurse Hospice and Barb Yoder and Karen Harvey at Will Jewelers, thru April 30, fortwayneartistguild.org.
Fort Wayne Photographers Club — Exhibition featuring local photographers, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 30, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Glass: A Medium in Art and Automobiles — Dale Chihuly blown glass and fiberglass auto, daily thru Sept. 8, Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Auburn, $7.50-$12.50, 925-1444
Jan Krist-Finkbeiner — Exhibition of ceramic reliefs, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
Juxtapoz Magazine: 25 Years Under the Influence — A chronicle of the iconic magazine’s evolution into one of the most influential magazines of art of the counterculture, Tuesday-Sunday thru July 9, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Kathy Funderburg & Diane Schafer-King — Acrylic paintings (Funderburg) and works in marbled paper and fabric (Schaefer-King), Monday-Saturday thru April 29, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
Norman Bradley and Friends — Exhibition of works by friends and colleagues of the late Fort Wayne artist, Tuesday-Saturday thru May 20 , Crestwoods Frame Shop & Gallery, Roanoke, 672-2080
Outdoor Sculpture Invitational — Fifteen outdoor sculptures from regional artists, daily thru April 30, School of Creative Arts campus, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Perspectives Live Butterfly Display — Up close and personal perspectives of the Conservatory’s newest collection of live butterflies, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 25, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Rhoda Gerig: The Hope of Eagles — Photographic images of eagles, daily thru June 4, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102
Robert Williams: SLANG Aesthetics! — An exhibition of new work by the artist considered the godfather of the lowbrow, pop surrealist and colloquial realism art movements, Tuesday-Sunday thru July 23, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Sharon — An exhibition of Leon Borensztein photographs chronicling the struggles he faced raising his severely disabled daughter, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
SOCA Graduate Program: Student Highlights — Juried exhibition of works by students enrolled in USF’s School of Creative Arts graduate program, Monday-Friday thru April 30, Lupke Gallery, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Exhibition of works by IPFW graduation seniors, daily thru May 3, Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery, Main Library, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Senior thesis projects from Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates Brenda Drayer (sculpture), Derek Hibbs (printmaking), Ellen Mensch (painting), Nathaniel Morris (sculpture) and Kyle Snodgrass (sculpture), daily thru May 7, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring Palette — New original works by more than 50 nationally recognized artists, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru May 20 (Cinco de Mayo Fiesta featuring mariachi music by Mark Meussling 6-10 p.m. Friday, May 5), Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568