I/Eye: On Photography

Metal work

Posted in Artisans & Merchants, portraits by Sheila Newbery on May 27, 2010

From the Artisans & Merchants series, a portrait of Bay Area sculptor Joe Slusky at work in his outdoor studio in Oakland.  Joe’s painted metal sculptures can be seen at various public sites throughout the Bay Area; I pass one of them — Helios — every day on my way to work in the darkroom. It’s a commanding piece that stands at the corner of 7th and Grayson in Berkeley. Carl Worth, founding director of the Berkeley Art Center, describes Joe’s work (in a 2007 interview with Richard Whittaker) as “large, active, three-dimensional pieces with pearlescent finishes […] quite elegant and powerful.” It can also be intimate in scale, free and witty — irresistible to the touch.

For years Joe taught drawing in the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley — one of the last programs in the country to insist that  students of architecture learn to work with pencil and paper.  Among his friends, his facility with drawing  is legendary: his ongoing series of physiognomies (I think of them as invented individuals) on found postcards is a tour-de-force of imagination and virtuosity; it’s part caricature, part fiction, part inspired abstraction — an outpouring of curiosity about the manifestations of human character.

Joe Slusky, sculptor (Oakland, CA, 2005) © Sheila Newbery

Joe Slusky, sculptor (Oakland, CA, 2005) © Sheila Newbery

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