The Bronze Age
Solo Exhibit, New Art Center, Manhattan, NY. 2011
For sculptor Christopher Gulick the inspiration for this exhibit —his latest batch of works— came from several sources, a pair of past exhibits especially. The first being the “the Tables” exhibit by Tom Otterness at the Wichita Art Museum in 19— made a lasting impression. Gulick acquired a fresh perspective on the impact bronze has in contemporary sculpture.
Gulick also had the opportunity to view the Henry Moore retrospective at the Tate in 2010. This deepened his understanding of the overall casting process, in particular the exceptional importance of maquette building.
Finally, the name of the exhibit came from a residency in Berlin and Tangendorf, Germany in 2009 with his wife, Sheryl. Their hosts, Itzy and Mikal took them on a private guided tour of Brandenburg’s archaeological prize, “Das Konigsgrab von Seddin” an 800BCE Bronze Age burial tomb under a 30-meter wide, hand built granite mound. To investigate first-hand, the Gulicks climbed into the tiny 2 meter by 2-meter hole where an unnamed king of Seddin was laid to rest.
Gulick’s training in metalworking comes from an assortment life experiences. Random childhood projects such as building go-carts, chopper bicycles, as well as assisting his father with a myriad of used cars. Gulick took these same improvised-engineering skills into working on the sports cars he owned and also at a local shop, Casey’s Sports Car Service. Eventually Gulick honed his metal passions in a seemingly obligatory stint at one of Wichita’s many aircraft factories. In aircraft he realized he enjoyed working the aluminum as if it were wood. Hand cut, bent, hammered, drilled, and riveted.…all cold.
Gulick never got around to learning how to weld. Eventually he came to not care that he had never learned. He enjoys the battle with the metal. In Gulick’s own words, “I cut, beat and bend. And…metal does the same in kind. I have been cut —I have the scars to prove such— as well as beat and bent…having also the bruises and sore joints.”
Friend and colleague, Constance Ernatt encouraged Gulick’s exploration and utilization of bronze as his primary material, confident of the results this metal could yield. One of his chief mentors, Randall Julian, encouraged the cold work. He preferred the natural shaping of the metal, keeping the heat inside of the metal, allowing the atoms to naturally migrate. Gulick relates to this “natural” tempering; preferring the bare-fisted dual with the material. He feels that this approach to the process keeps the fight…fair.
Gulick’s sculpture comes from three basic mindsets, mechanical/architectural, organic and/or a combination thereof. Most of his creative designs are first poured out on paper, often randomly sketches in blind, doodling fashion. Afterward, he then waits in a stare at the chaos until some order works its way through in the form of positive or negative space indicators. Gulick also uses architectural and interior design magazine as sketchbooks, responding to the space in the photographs with what he feels would sculpturally enhance the area.
Family, friends and colleagues assisted in choosing —from his sketchbooks– the inventory you see.
Christopher Gulick finds it comforting to have the audience make a “request” as half of the pieces in this exhibition are his own selection of studio projects. The other half is his personal catering to the desires of patrons…the people for which Gulick believes we all create.