Artineering

Lance Dehné, NY Arts Magazine, April 2003

Yes, I did have an "Erector Set" when I was a kid. I also participated in the games "Mousetrap," "Operation," "Chutes and Ladders," even built a few "Mr. Potato Heads" and many, many model airplanes. I still like to watch gadgets; where the steel ball rolls down a chute, drops onto a springboard that launches a projectile which hits a lever that releases a wheel and spirals down a rack, hitting a trapdoor that activates a lift, pops open a flap, and releases a colorful gumball. The steel ball then makes its way back to the top, replenishing the potential energy needed to harvest the next delight. It is this kind of imagery I would like to relate to everyday creativity: the action, the colors, the journey, and the rewards. I like to build things as much as I like to paint and draw things. In fact I like to build things that I paint and draw—i.e., design / build.

In a series of works now underway, these gadgets represent day to day activities. When complete, the series can be looked at as a kind of "what makes the world go 'round'" story. The ball keeps rolling on. Beyond this series, some features will remain prevalent in works to come. Calmly dynamic features such as slots, grooves, stops, weights, pulleys, wheels and pegs, are meant to convey motion, either past, present, or future. Not with the photographic "blur" effect or the repeated "tracers" of Duchamp, but instead, just the idea that they exist, free to slide, fall, rotate or otherwise "move" until stopped.

I avoid gears, that is just too mechanical, too serious, too many moving parts that might fail. Wheels are perfectly simple and beautifully round. Round is fun. Painters use round all the time—round ladies with round faces dancing 'round with "roundly" curved musical instruments. Round with color is dessert. Everyone reacts to a shiny, round, red rubber ball. It would be safe to say that given a variety of objects in a room, most people (not just children), would be lured toward the red ball and be compelled to pick it up and play with it. That's what I look to do in some of my paintings, put the "red ball" there and hope the viewer wants engage.

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