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, Aug 26, 2016
whatzup2nite • Friday, August 26
Click on the headings below for full calendars
Dance Party — Open dancing, 7:30-10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26, Dance Tonight, Fort Wayne, $10, 437-6825
Taste of the Arts — Arts and culture festival featuring musical performances, local food and beverages, art exhibits, artisan market, farmers market and more, 5:30-10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26 and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, Arts United Plaza, Fort Wayne, free, 426-0646
John Primer — Blues at Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m., $6, 427-6440
Acoustic Jam Session — Hosted by Dick Myers at Checkerz Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 489-0286
Apocoshyne — Variety at Mitchell's Sports Bar, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $3, 387-5063
Dueling Keyboard Boys w/Julie Hadaway — Variety/Roanoke Lions Club Fundraiser at Cottage Event Center, Roanoke, 7:30 p.m., $12, 414-2015
Good Night Gracie — Variety at Courtyard Fountain, Jefferson Pointe, Fort Wayne, 6:30-8:30 p.m., no cover, 459-1160
Jason Paul — Acoustic variety at Beamer's Sports Grill, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 625-1002
Joe Stabelli — Jazz at Don Hall's Gas House, Fort Wayne, 5:45-9 p.m., no cover, 426-3411
John Curran & Renegade — Country at American Legion Post 241, Waynedale, 8:30-11:30 p.m., no cover, 747-7851
Junk Yard Band — Oldies at Georgetown Square Shopping Center, Fort Wayne, 6:30-8:30 p.m., free, 749-0461
Kat Bowser — Variety at Don Hall's Guesthouse, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m., no cover, 489-2524
Kyler Haller Band — Rock/variety at Corner Pocket Pub, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 492-7665
Miller Family Bluegrass — Bluegrass at Cupbearer CafÃ©, Auburn, 7-9 p.m., free, 920-8734
Primal Urge — Classic rock at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 483-5526
Soul 35 — Variety at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 482-6425
Steve Lupkin and Michael Patterson — Blues/jazz at Venice Restaurant, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 482-1618
Swick & Jones — Acoustic at Chapman's Brewery, Angola, 6 p.m., no cover, 319-5495
Todd Harrold & Nick Bobay — R&B/blues at Duesy's Sports Bar & Grille, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 483-5681
Tooth — Rock at BrewHa Coffee House, Columbia City, 7 p.m., no cover, 248-4111
Unlikely Alibi w/Matt Wixon, Mickyle James Esh — Funk/indie at Brass Rail, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., $5, 267-5303
West Central Quartet — Jazz at Club Soda, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 426-3442
The Wool Giraffes — Acoustic rock at Deer Park Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 432-8966
Zephaniah — Metal at O'Sullivan's Italian Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 422-5896
Dance Party w/DJ Rich — Variety at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 10:30 p.m., cover, 422-5055
Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ — Karaoke at 4 Crowns, Auburn, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 925-9805
Light’s Up — Audience of One Youth Theatre Troupe variety show featuring Fort Wayne-area teens, 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26, Salvation Army Community Center, 2901 N. Clinton St., Fort Wayne, free, 241-3378
Click header for complete Movie times
Artlink Members’ Show — Works from over 200 members, Tuesday-Sunday thru Aug. 30, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
Carnie’s Coup — Contemporary pieces by Dainel Baxter, Jason Rowland and Jerrod Tobias, Monday-Saturday thru Sept. 24, Jennifer Ford Art, Fort Wayne, 740-1309
Decatur Sculpture Tour — 31 original sculptures and 15 permanent exhibits on display, walking tour maps available, thru April 1, 2017, Decatur, free, 724-2605
Don and Mary Gagnon — Photographs, Tuesday-Sunday thru Aug. 30, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
My Yours Ours — Photography from Palermo Galindo, daily thru Sept. 5, Franco D’Agostino Gallery, Indiana Tech, Fort Wayne, 422-5661
Nature Impressions of Indiana — Watercolor and mixed media by Lynn Diamente and pottery by Kristy Jo Beber, Monday-Saturday thru Aug. 30, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
The Nature of Things Traveling Exhibition — Exhibit teaches visitors about the natural world with hands on activity stations, the lives, functions and features of animals and insects, Wednesday-Sunday thru Sept. 11, Science Central, Fort Wayne, $6-$8 (2 and under, free), 424-2400 ext. 423
Paroxysm: A New Body of Work by Crystal Wagner — Large scale multi-textured sculptures, Tuesday-Sunday thru Oct. 23, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
Robert Vegeler and Barbara Krupp — Abstract paintings and inspirational acrylics, Friday-Sunday thru Sept. 13, Garrett Museum of Art, Garrett, 704-5400
Sculptures on the Square III: the Magic of Metal — Public modern art installation featuring large-scale metal works created by Midwestern artists, thru Sept. 15, downtown Auburn, 419-769-1086
Summer in Indiana — Works by Tom Keesee, Austin Cartwright, Alan Larkin, Elizabeth Walmsley, Katherine Rohrbacher, Patricia Weiss, Gwen Gutwein, Rebecca Justice-Schaab, Marcy Neiditz and Barbara Nohinek, Tuesday-Saturday thru August 31, Crestwoods Frame Shop & Gallery, Roanoke, 672-2080
Summer of Glass — Annual showcase of brilliantly executed studio glass feat. works by Albert Paley and Davide Salvatore and award winners from 44th Annual International Glass Invitational, Tuesday-Sunday thru Sept. 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
Summer Shandy — Works by local and national artists, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru Sept. 11, Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568
Theoplis Smith III — Works on display, daily, Aug. 27-Oct. 21, The Gallery at PranaYoga, Fort Wayne, 423-9642
Tom Martin: Everything and Nothing — Realist paintings resembling life and reality and focused on the effect money has on people, Tuesday-Sunday thru Oct. 16, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
Fort Wayne Dance Collective Summer 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
Live Trivia — Trivia night with live host, 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays, Duesy’s Sports Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, free, 484-0411
Summer Nights at the Embassy — Live entertainment, cash bar, and local food on the Embassy rooftop, 5-9 p.m. Wednesdays thru Sept. 7, Embassy Theatre, Fort Wayne, $5,424-6287
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
Team Trivia — Trivia for teams of up to 6 players, 7 p.m. Thursdays, Crazy Pinz/Coconutz, Fort Wayne, free, 969-9336