Reno Gazette-Journal from Reno, Nevada on July 4, 2010 · Page 77
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Reno Gazette-Journal from Reno, Nevada · Page 77

Reno, Nevada
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Page 77
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Arts G Culture 'AUTOIUST' Exhibit melds female figures, autos 'AUTOLUST' BY CRAIG SMYRES WHEN: 2 to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday; noon to 4 p.m. Saturday; through July 31 WHERE: Sheppard Fine Art Gallery, Church Fine Arts building. University of Nevada, Reno COST: Free ARTIST'S LECTURE: 5 to 6 p.m Thursday with a reception to follow J.WU" .! '..juiiw.. ii j ii i.u iu.i i .ii ii. .1.... i. j..,. ..i. i MM 1 II mm - : O ( nJMpJiisj X MARILYN NEWTONRGJ Local artist Craig Smyres poses Tuesday with his "Autolust" exhibit at the University of Nevada, Reno Sheppard Gallery at the Church of Fine Arts. By Susan Skorupa From the curve of a blue ' Chevy pick-up fender hanging over the entrance to the Sheppard Fine Art Gallery to lines of the metal industrial sculptures inside, there's no doubt where Craig Smyres' heart lies. After 1 5 years of work, the Reno artist has completed "autolust," his vision of car culture and the industrial production and desire the culture engenders. Using female figures and nostalgic autos, Smyres' work evokes freedom and style, but also industrial and environmental themes. The installation is open in the gallery inside the Church Fine Arts building at the University of Nevada, Reno through July 3 1 . Smyres started work on the installation in 1995. Earlier, he had made a metal sculpture that was half woman and half car. He expanded the idea, first with a nude female figure cradling a car in her arms and sitting on a world globe. "I realized I could not do (it in) ceramic," he said. "It's a soft material and it sort of would be saying the opposite. ... I wanted industrial themes but clay says 'soft and organic,' so I decided on metals." Working in bronze and other metals, he knew the project would take time, but what he thought might take eight years took 15. The sculptures start as wax frtfms and finish up as metal. Mistakes usually can be fixed, he said. "Diana," the woman seated on the globe, for example, finished up with a bad thumb. WSJ - -V slightly female figure. Last week during the installation set up, her head remained in a box on the floor. "Diana" the globe sitter is there, along with a near twin. In another sculpted pair, what first look like twin nudes, also appear as convertible roadsters spewing black smoke. Smyres, who has muscular distrophy and works from a wheelchair, created wax sculptures for the figures and worked with friends to make molds. In the foundry, he did much of the work up to and including welding and grinding. Of more than 200 metal pours, he worked on most of the crews, and did every kind of work involved except actually pouring the molten metal, Smyres said. "The sculptures may be nostalgic, but the idioms are contemporary," he said. "The girls range from blase to manic. They are off balance. They have big feet. The figures are expressions of material desire. In twined images of women and cars, I lay bare our autolust. ... Cars are the vehicle of my story. They speak of the appeal of the automobile the freedom, the styling. They speak of industrial mass production." f ... . ...... t "I had to weld a glob of metal to her hand, then grind it (the thumb) out," he said. "When I'm grinding a thumb from metal, I feel like a real metal sculptor." Each piece is finished with a colorful patina derived from applying a chemical, such as ferric nitrate for brown, then heating it with a torch. "You create decades of rust in half an hour," he said. 17 pieces The exhibition includes about 1 7 pieces of work, but most of them have several sculpted objects. There also are photographs and prints and a multi-media version of Smyres' novel, "The Timbers were Hewn," is part of the installation. "If you count the pieces, there are 1 7 to over 100, depending on how you count them," he said. "Some pieces (that are part of a larger work) could stand on their own." The Chevy pickup fender with a neon "autolust" sign, created by local artist Jeff Johnson, welcomes visitors to the gallery. A computer screen to read "The Timbers were Hewn" also is at the entrance. A short corridor into the gallery is lined with photos of "beauty shots" of several cars. At the end of the corridor are the "Caution Girls," sculpted twin women, about two feet high, in aqua dresses. Their right arms are raised at a Supremes' "Stop in the Name of Love" angle, signifying caution more so then exclusion. Nearby is "Miss Studebaker," a rust-colored Studebaker sign eroded to a Diamond Vault 775.342.6663 4950 Kietzke Lane, Suite 301, Reno Open Monday-Friday 10am-5:30pm Saturday 11am-3pm

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