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.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Click on the headings below for full calendars
Columbia City Haunted Jail — Haunted tours of the jail where Charles Butler was hung, 7-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Oct. 28-29; 7-9 p.m. Sunday-Monday, Oct. 30-31; 7-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 4-5 and 7-9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, Columbia City Haunted Jail, Columbia City, $13-$20, www.columbiacityhauntedjail.com
Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages — Showing of 1929 silent film that explores the history of witchcraft, demonology and satanism with live score performed by members of Lost Lakes, 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, Cinema Center, Fort Wayne, $10-$15, 426-3456
Hysterium — Haunted asylum; formerly the Haunted Cave, 7 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday, Oct. 28-29; 7-9:30 p.m. Sunday-Monday, Oct. 30-31, 4410 Arden Dr., Fort Wayne, $13, $5 tool shed escape, www.facebook.com/hysteriumftwayne
Martin Guitar Event — Meet and greet with Chris Martin, CEO of C.F. Martin Guitar Co., hands on demonstrations, performance by Craig Thatcher and more, 7-8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28 and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, Sweetwater Sound, Fort Wayne, free, 432-8176
Chris Young w/Dan + Shay, Casadee Pope — Country at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., $41-$57, 483-1111
Dan Smyth — Acoustic at Chapman's Brewing, Columbia City, 6-9 p.m., no cover, 244-6252
Expanding Man — Variety at Don Hall's Guesthouse, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 489-2524
Gregg Bender and Friends — Variety at The Venice Restaurant, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 482-1618
Gunslinger — Country rock at Fat Boyz, Ligonier, 9 p.m., no cover, 894-4640
He Said She Said — Country rock at The Post, Pierceton, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m., cover, 574-594-3010
Joe Stabelli — Jazz at Don Hall's Gas House, Fort Wayne, 5:45-9 p.m., no cover, 426-3411
Loudmouth Soup — Rock at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., cover, 483-1311
Mojo Rising — Classic rock at 4D's Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 490-6488
Pat and Faye — Variety at Rack & Helen's, New Haven, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 749-5396
PrimeTime — Variety at Don Hall's Guesthouse, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 489-2524
Renz Brothers Quartet — Swing/favorites at Club Soda, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 426-3442
Rogues and Bandits — Rock at O'Sullivan's Italian Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 422-5896
Swimming Into View — Variety at Deer Park Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 432-8966
Todd Harrold & Nick Bobay — R&B/blues at Duesy's Sports Bar, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 484-0411
Unlikely Alibi — Funk at Brass Rail, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., cover, 267-5303
Club Paradise — DJ, 9:30 p.m.
Piggy's — DJ, 10 p.m.
Piggy's — Karaoke w/DJ Shaun Marcus, 7 p.m.
4 Crowns — Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. , no cover
Meteor Bar & Grill — Classic City Karaoke, 9 p.m.
DW Bar & Grill — Karaoke w/DJ Chuck, 10 p.m.
Portside Pizza — Karaoke w/Ambient Noise Ent., 9 p.m.
6 Mile Bar — Shooting Star Productions w/Nacho, 9 p.m.
Chevvy's — American Idol Karaoke w/TJ, 10 p.m.
Columbia Street West — Dance Party w/DJ Rich, 10:30 p.m. , cover
Crazy Pinz — Karaoke, 9-11 p.m. , no cover
Early Bird's Ultra Lounge — House DJ, 9 p.m.
Flashback on the Landing — House DJ, 9 p.m.
Hook & Ladder — Shooting Star Prod. w/Stu, 9 p.m.
Peanuts — DJ Beach, 10 p.m.
Pine Valley Bar & Grill — Karaoke, 9:30 p.m.
Rum Runners — DJ dance party, 8:30 p.m.
Steel Mill — Shooting Star Prod. w/Barbie, 10 p.m.
The Green Frog Inn — SureShot Karaoke w/David, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. , no cover
Tower Bar & Grill — Bucca Karaoke w/Ashley, 10 p.m.
Wrigley Field Bar & Grill — Live DJ, 10 p.m. , no cover
Hamilton House — Karaoke, 9 p.m. , no cover
Sit n' Bull — Classic City Karaoke, 9 p.m.
JR's Pub — American Idol Karaoke w/Scott, 9 p.m.
101 Pub & Grub — Shotgun Prod. Karaoke, 9 p.m.
Tap Haus — American Idol Karaoke, 9 p.m.
Ain’t Misbehavin’ — Musical comprised on Fats Waller classics, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28 and Friday-Saturday, Nov. 4-5; 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6; 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 11-12; 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, First Presbyterian Theater, Fort Wayne, $12-$20, 426-7421 ext. 121
Coriolanus — Shakespearemachine’s production of one of Shakespeare’s last tragedies, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Oct. 28-29, PHP ArtsLab, Auer Center for Arts & Culture, Fort Wayne, $10-$15 thru artstix.org
Click header for complete Movie times
Alma Hoffman — Works in various mediums, Friday-Sunday thru Nov. 22, Garrett Museum of Art, Garrett, 704-5400
Artlink’s Figure Drawers — Figure drawings and sketches from Arlink’s figure drawing class students, Tuesday-Sunday thru Nov. 30 , Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
Austin Cartwright and Eric Carlson — Drawings and clay sculptures, Tuesday-Saturday thru Nov. 5, Crestwoods Frame Shop & Gallery, Roanoke, 672-2080
Corrugated — Invitational exhibit of pieces of artwork created from corrugated material; in collaboration with Kelly Box and the University of Saint Francis School of Creative Art, Tuesday-Sunday thru Nov. 30 , Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
Decatur Sculpture Tour — 31 original sculptures and 15 permanent exhibits on display, walking tour maps available, thru April 1, 2017, Decatur, free, 724-2605
Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos — Community-centered exhibit featuring traditional Mexican altars, Tuesday-Sunday thru Nov. 6, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
Fall Colors and Themes — Paintings and photos depicting the rich changing colors of the season along with raku fired skulls, fiber monsters, harvest moon paintings, clay figures and more, Monday-Saturday thru Oct. 31, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
Halloween & Autumn Inspired Art — Seasonal art from member artists, Monday-Saturday thru Nov. 5, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
A Legacy of Art: A Collection by William and Mary Ann Roebel — Collection includes works by Renoir, Toulouse-Latrec, Matisse, Rembrandt, Dali, Whistler and many other masters, daily thru Nov. 6, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6977
Marks of Intention — Abstract works by Nazar Harran, Monday-Saturday thru Nov. 15, Jennifer Ford Art, Fort Wayne, 740-1309
Master Prints — Diverse collection of prints acquired by the university over the past 15 years, Monday-Friday thru Dec. 22, Lupke Gallery, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Midwest Ceramics Invitational — Works from nine professional Midwest ceramic artists, Monday-Friday thru Nov. 20, Weatherhead Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Oil Painters of America Salon Show — Juried show featuring 300 paintings by Oil Painters of America members, Tuesday-Saturday thru Oct. 29, Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568
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
Paintings by Alexandra Hall — Whimsical paintings, Tuesday-Sunday thru Nov. 30 , Fishman Gallery, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
Photography Show — Exhibition of photographs in three categories (black and white, color and altered images), daily thru Nov. 9 (reception 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9), Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102
Robert Kipniss: The Whispering Light — Recent painted and printed works by American artist, Tuesday-Sunday, Oct. 29-Jan. 22, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467 Art of Healing — Works created to inspire healing and overcoming personal obstacles, Friday-Sunday thru Nov. 13, Garrett Museum of Art, Garrett, 704-5400
SOCA Student Highlights Exhibition: Photo — Works by students enrolled in USF’s School of Creative Arts photography program, Monday-Friday thru Nov. 20, Spotlight Gallery, Mimi and Ian Rolland Art and Visual Communication Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
William and Peggy Dotterweich Game Fish Figurine Collection — A selection of hand-painted porcelain game fish figurines, Monday-Friday thru Nov. 20, Goldfish Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Artlink Educational Programs — Art classes offered by Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, dates and times vary, Artlink, Fort Wayne, fees vary, 424-7195
Fort Wayne Dance Collective Workshops — Workshops and classes for movement, dance, yoga and more offered by Fort Wayne Dance Collective, dates and times vary, Fort Wayne Dance Collective, Fort Wayne, fees vary, 424-6574
IPFW Community Arts Academy— Art, dance, music and theater classes for grades pre-K through 12 offered by IPFW College of Visual and Performing Arts, fees vary, 481-6977, www.ipfw.edu/caa
Sweetwater Academy of Music — Private lessons for a variety of instruments available from professional instructors, ongoing weekly lessons, Sweetwater Sound, Fort Wayne, call for pricing, 432-8176, academy.sweetwater.com