Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Abstract Representation

by Emily Amberger

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Crabtree, whose sculpture Punching in a Dream is featured in “Art Saint Louis XXVIII, The Exhibition,” currently on view at Art Saint Louis through December 27, 2012.

Dan Crabtree. Punching in a Dream. 2012. Formed & Forged Steel, 48”x18”x20”.

Dan Crabtree. Reverse view: Punching in a Dream. 2012. Formed & Forged Steel, 48”x18”x20”.


When Dan was young, he developed an interest in medieval weapons. As he got older, he desired to know how these weapons were made, so he started making knives and other utilitarian objects. He experimented with various blacksmith tools, eventually learning about the ornamental aspect of metalsmithing by creating light fixtures and candle holders. He has participated in various art shows throughout the years, and apprenticed in Murphysboro, Illinois, where he started creating fine art sculptural forms.


Dan Crabtree. Inness. 2012. Forged Steel, 30”x12”x12”.


He classifies his work as abstract representation, often deriving his content from life experiences or anything that has had an emotional impact on him. The title of his exhibited piece, Punching in a Dream, is taken from a song by a New Zealand band, The Naked and Famous. His piece is whimsically curvaceous, alluding to the “slow-motion” sensation we experience while we are dreaming. This is the first colorful sculpture that Dan has created; he wanted the piece to have a graffiti-like motif. He usually opts to apply a patina or have the natural color of the metal shine through.



Dan Crabtree. Sandals. 2011. Forged Steel, 28”x8”x4”.


Dan says the shapes of his forms are not pre-determined, and that he works in an active/reactive process. He cuts his shapes out of sheets and uses heat to bend the steel. While he uses traditional metalworking tools to forge the shape, he also employs other tools, including hollowed-out stumps to achieve his desired form.  When asked where his work will go in the future, he says that he aspires to build large scale sculptures and to refine his metalsmithing skills to perfection.
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"Art St. Louis XXVIII, The Exhibition" is on view at Art Saint Louis through 5 p. m., Thursday, December 27, 2012. Gallery is free and open to the public Mondays and Saturdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sundays and holidays, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Art Saint Louis is located at 555 Washington Avenue, #150, St. Louis, MO. 314/241-4810. www.artstlouis.org
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Emily Amberger is Administrative Assistant at Art Saint Louis. A photographic artist, Emily earned her B.F.A. in photography from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in December 2010.
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