Landon Crowell ‘alters’ time and space at YS Arts Council

By Terri Gordon

What do beeswax, maple branches and an aircraft cable all have in common?

They are all elements used by artist Landon Crowell in his upcoming Yellow Springs Art Center exhibition, Altered.

“In my work for Altered, the materials are basic construction materials readily found in a big box DIY chain,” explains Crowell in an artist’s statement, “though 99 percent of the materials were scavenged from construction site dumpsters and demo projects from remodels. The materials have [had] a previous life, ranging from shelving, stud walls and even art shipping crates. This gives the elements of each piece a memory, a previous life.”

Art is like a second language to Crowell, who grew up surrounded by artistic and inventive people. A Dayton native, Crowell’s mother worked with ceramics, and his aunts drew and painted. “My grandpa was a tinkerer,” Crowell says, “so he would always tinker and build stuff. We would build kites out of trash bags and bell rods when I was little.”

Like a lot of artists, Crowell resists labels and categories, though he—loosely—considers himself a sculptor. “I think its kind of dangerous to characterize, to tell you the truth. Then, it’s already putting an idea into someone’s head,” he says. “I consider myself a sculptor, I guess. I did four and a half years as a metal smith at the University of Akron.

“Some of my stuff is not really sculpture, and some of my stuff is not really painting. Sometimes, it’s more relief-like, and sometimes it hangs on the wall. Sometimes, it’s on a pedestal. It’s just kind of an open-ended sort of thing for me. I work in metal, wood. Some of my stuff has tar and beeswax. I’ve done video stuff. I pretty much use whatever medium I need to.”

Quiet and shy as a child, Crowell is a natural observer. He takes inspiration from these observations, and from his experiences over 17 years of traversing the United States. He is driven by a need to make material the ideas of his mind. “I love to observe,” he says. “I love to watch mannerisms and how people interact. When I am walking down the street, I’ll see something sitting on the sidewalk, and the way it’s sitting or the way it looks against the sidewalk. Those things are the things that interest me.

“Sometimes it’s just me trying to remember. I have the emotion of it, but memories fade and they get distorted over time. Painters paint a landscape and paint what they see. When I do a landscape piece, it’s more making what I remember it to be, and what I remember it felt like.

“I see something in my head, and I want to see it because I personally have never seen it before. So, it’s a drive to create, a drive to work with my hands. I guess that’s why I do it. It’s a passion—the idea of, actually just the action of, working through something that’s just strictly in your mind, that has no form, no shape. It’s just an abstract issue or idea.
Being able to actually physically think through the issue and the problems to making that image, or that object, or whatever—that really is a big turn on.”

So, as Crowell alters materials to capture the memories altered by time (“Our memories over time fade, all the fine detail gets lost, except for those few gems of detail that make each memory special,” as he explains in his statement), he also alters reality, fusing faded memories of past realities into tangible new realities. As viewers add their own faded memories and realities to the mix, even more realities are born.

Crowell, who acts as the sculpture and gallery technician at Wright State University, came to the attention of the Yellow Springs Arts Council (YSAC) a couple of years ago, when he applied for an art event called “Locked In.” For three days, three artists, with three tools each, created installations from boxes (yes, three) of donated items. While, in the end, Landon was not selected for the project, he did make an impression on the group and was offered an exhibit. Hence, Altered.

“I am very curious to see how our space will morph with his art in it,” Nancy Mellon, YSAC’s gallery coordinator, says. “He has a raw reality to his work, no frills. He leaves space for the viewer to put themselves in it and make up their own stories about it.”

The opening reception for Landon Crowell’s Altered takes place Friday, June 17 from 6 to 9 p.m. during the Yellow Springs Art Stroll in the Yellow Springs Arts Council Community Gallery, 111 Corry St. in Yellow Springs. For more information, please visit ysartscouncil.org.
Freelance writer Terri Gordon writes across a range of topics, including nature, health and homes and gardens. She holds a masters in English and occasionally teaches college composition and literature. Her blog, WordWorks (tsgordon.blogspot.com) is a “bulletin board” of some of her favorite things. Reach her at TerriGordon@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Terri Gordon
Freelance writer Terri Gordon writes across a range of topics, including nature, health, and homes and gardens. She holds a masters in English and occasionally teaches college composition and literature. Her blog, WordWorks (http://tsgordon.blogspot.com) is a "bulletin board" of some of her favorite things.

One Response to “Tinker, tailor, sculptor guy” Subscribe

  1. Patience July 18, 2016 at 2:17 am #

    This is both street smart and inegllietnt.

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