Re-Leased! The Dutchman is staying in Mankato for another year!
The Twin Rivers Arts Council enjoyed my piece so much they wanted to lease it for another year!
It's currently located outside the Emily Frenz Gallery in downtown Mankato.
Wrench Bench is open for business!
I just installed my "Wrench Bench" for the City of Minneapolis Public Art '29th Street Public Art Project' today. I designed this 'curved locomotive wrench' styled bench as an homage to all the people who worked on the Milwaukee Road Railroad system. This is one of the railroads that built Minneapolis and St. Paul by providing transportation of Midwestern passengers, culture and goods to the rest of the world.
This is the first of two pieces I will be installing on 29th Street and are my first public art pieces for the City of Minneapolis.
Checkout my 'Wrench Bench' and the other great works in the Lyndale Lake Neighborhood (Jungle Theater, The Greenway, Herkimer Brewing, The Lime Building).
Kyle Fokken, Top Dog, and Wrench Bench;
Gail Katz-James, Flour Sack Rack;
Niko Kubota, Roaming Rails; and
Sara Udvig, Rules of Play.
All works are located between Bryant and Lyndale Avenues on 29th Street South.
Special thanks to the Fabulous Fabrication Folks at SIGNMINDS AND SOLID METAL ARTS, the City of Minneapolis Public Art, it's Public Works Department, and of course Mary Altman and Ann Godfrey.
The Butterfly Dress is going to Eau Claire!
I just found out that my piece "The Butterfly Dress" is on it's way to Eau Claire, WI for their Sculpture Walk.
The piece is currently in Mankato, MN for their CityArt Sculpture Tour and it will move this spring to Eau Claire.
Hopefully, it'll win an award while it's there.
Second Place for sculpture at the Minnesota State Fair!
Happy to say that I won Second Place for the sculpture division of the Minnesota State Fair!
It is highly competitive and many people apply but few get in. I think my category typically only accepts 25 out of 45 or so finalists and typically more than 200 people apply for this category.
Part of what winning an award here is that there is so much great work in our state and it is very competitive. I have been in this show a number of times in the last 15 years or so and have won many awards but none as high as Second Place!
Checkout my piece "The Jack in the Basket" (Figurehead Series) and all the other great artwork our state has to offer.
Minnesota State Fair!
Well it's that time of year again in Minnesota - time for the Great Minnesota Get Together - aka the Minnesota State Fair!
Yes, it's a big deal, one of the biggest and most well attended in the US.
Along with that is the highly competitive Fine Arts Show. Yes, there's are a log of paintings of farm animals, cute children with hats but there is a lot of really good work that doesn't fit into those genres.
I've been fortunate to get my work in a number of times, won a a lot of awards and gotten some sales too. Most of my stuff is a little off kilter and weird, but I have to say that this year's piece takes the cake. I entered in my piece "The Jack in the Basket" which features a snake in a basket with the head of a human skull. The skull is wearing a hat made out of a Winnebago pickup camper with a large satellite dish on top. The piece references the 'Don't Tread on Me' snake and this deathly obsession we have with cable news which creates a 'trailer park mentality' in grabbing the juiciest soundbites as fact - on both the left and the right.
Frankly, I'm surprised that it made it past the first judging so to see it actually in the show will be quite interesting to see how it's received.
If you get a chance, take in the show. The 2017 fair runs Aug. 24 – Sept. 4. Check it out!
The Satiric Versus - New Carved Figuretive Works
I'll be featuring some new works focusing on woodcarving techniques that are influenced by art history and political cartoons from the last 300 years.
This is all due to a generous "Artist's Initiative Grant" I received in 2016 from the Minnesota State Arts Board.
I hope that you can checkout all the different pieces and enjoy seeing all the various artwork, music, foods and beverages that will be in place
“during the Art-A-Whirl® [weekend/event/exhibition]
“Art-A-Whirl® is an open studio tour in Northeast Minneapolis showcasing the work of NEMAA members. Art-A-Whirl® is a federally-registered trademark of NEMAA.”
'Best in Show - Other Media"!
I got "Best In Show" in the "Other Media/Non Bronze" category for Mankato's City Art Sculpture Tour. I've shown here a few times before and I've won a Third Place Award, but it's nice to be on top again!
In the spirit of 'paying it forward' I did donate a big chunk of the award towards various arts non profit galleries and organizations that I support during Give to the Max Day.
Another nice thing is that the Twin Rivers Art Council has decided to lease the piece and place it in front of their offices for another year.
Hopefully, some one will buy it soon. It's a great piece and it really should have a permanent home.
'Best in Show - Other Media"!
I got "Best In Show" in the "Other Media/Non Bronze" category for Mankato's City Art Sculpture Tour. I've shown here a few times before and I've won a Third Place Award, but it's nice to be on top again!
In the spirit of 'paying it forward' I did donate a big chunk of the award towards various arts non profit galleries and organizations that I support during Give to the Max Day.
Another nice thing is that the Twin Rivers Art Council has decided to lease the piece and place it in front of their offices for another year.
Hopefully, some one will buy it soon. It's a great piece and it really should have a permanent home.
The Butterfly Dress has landed!
I installed my new piece "The Butterfly Dress" about a week and a half ago in St. Cloud, MN for their first ever Sculpture Walk!
Here's a pic of my college friend Bob and his daughter Ava to give you some idea of scale. The piece is constructed out of steel in a cage-like formation and then clad with painted aluminum. The actual butterflies are made out of Light Inference Coated Stainless Steel which makes them iridescent in the light changing colour from burgundy blue to a peacock green blue.
Here's my statement about the piece:
For “The Butterfly Dress”
“The Butterfly Dress” is about beauty, loss and transformation. I made this piece as a way to remember all the fun times with my little girl and how she’s growing and transforming into a more beautiful and interesting person.
The imagery of the piece is my daughter’s school uniform slowly transforming into butterflies. There is sadness for the loss of childhood, but there’s beauty in what is to come.
Checkout my work and vote for your favorite piece!
New Studio for the Largest Art Studio Crawl in the USA!
I finally got a new, self contained studio. I'm in Studio 120 in the Casket Arts Building in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District. I got another MN State Arts Board Artist's Initiative Grant to rent it and to start making a new body of work. I really needed to get a taller studio to make bigger work and I'll be working on life sized 'Figurehead' sculptures. 'Figureheads' are the carved forms of mermaids, monsters, kings and maidens on the fronts of sailing ships. I'll be combining my mixed media vehicle pieces with human figures to explore a new aesthetic. I'll keep you posted...
Meantime, checkout the pic with all the people in my space this past weekend.
29th Street Public Art Project Open House - April 5th at LIME
Well, I can't disclose too much at this time, but the thing that has been taking up most of my time (aside from constantly applying for grants, museum shows and public art) is this project for 29th Street in South Minneapolis. I'm one of 5 finalists vying for 2 possible artworks in this recently hip and trendy neighborhood.
As part of this project, I've gotten to know a number of wonderful artists and their work and it will be very interesting to see how everyone approached the 'woonerf - a Dutch term for 'shared street' - or 'shared street' - how we're referring to it. Anyway, the concept is to raise the level of the road up to sidewalk level to make a large 'plaza' style of street where people can walk, bicycle, have a pet on a leash and even drive. The speed limit will be very slow to allow for safe coexistence and will be mostly for access to the multiple housing and parking lots adjacent to the street. The idea is to create more of a 'back yard' for the people in the area and make a spot for festivals and farmer's markets, art fairs etc to occur. Currently, the street is a glorified alley with a lot of potholes and a bent steel fence guarding against a steep slide into the Midtown Greenway Bikeway.
If you'd like to see my proposal, models and drawings I suggest you come out for the open house. See the info below.
West 29th Street
PUBLIC ART OPEN HOUSE
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Marché, 2904 Lyndale Ave S
KYLE FOKKEN ◊ GAIL KATZ-JAMES ◊ NIKO KUBOTA ◊ DEBORAH RAMOS ◊ SARA UDVIG
Join us for a public open house to introduce designs by five emerging Twin Cities' public artists for West 29th Street between Lyndale and Bryant Avenues. This event features a drop-in open format. Come by, meet the artists and provide feedback on their designs.
For more information on this project, visit http://www.minneapolismn.gov/dca/WCMSP-173461. Para asistencia 612-673-2700 – Rau kev pab 612-673-2800 – Haddii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500.
City of Minneapolis
Art in Public Places
Community Planning and Economic Development
ARTE PÚBLICO en West 29th Street (la Calle 29 West)
Se les invita a una Reunión Comunitaria
El martes, 5 de abril, 2016
de 6:00 a 7:30 pm
en el restaurant Marché, 2904 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis
KYLE FOKKEN ◊ GAIL KATZ-JAMES ◊ NIKO KUBOTA ◊ DEBORAH RAMOS ◊ SARA UDVIG
Acompáñenos en esta reunión comunitaria para introducir los diseños de cinco artistas emergentes de las Twin Cities (Ciudades Gemelas) para el proyecto de renovación de la West 29th Street, lentre las avenidas Lyndale y Bryant. Este evento informal ofrece la oportunidad para que miembros de la comunidad conozcan a los artistas y compartan sus opiniones sobre los diseños. Dos de los cinco artistas serán seleccionados para incorporar sus proyectos de arte público en la renovación de la West 29th Street. La participación de la comunidad es valiosa.
Para obtener más información sobre este proyecto, por favor visite al http://www.minneapolismn.gov/dca/WCMSP-173461. Para asistencia 612-673-2700 – Rau kev pab 612-673-2800 – Haddii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500.
City of (Ciudad de) Minneapolis
Art in Public Places (Arte en Sitios Público)
Community Planning and Economic Development (Oficina de Planificación Comunitaria y Desarrollo Económico)
Upcoming outdoor exhibits
I'll be playing the annual reshuffle of outdoor sculpture again this spring. I'll be showing work in the cities of Stillwater, Mankato, and Bemidji and I'm working on submitting a new piece for St. Cloud. These next few weeks will be very, very busy.
Third Place in Sculpture!
I have two pieces in the Arts In Harmony International Juried Exhibition in Elk River, MN. I received a 3rd Place in Sculpture for my piece "The Rising Tide". The piece is comprised of a pleasure sailboat sailing on top of a 'gusher' of oil coming from an old fashioned oil derrick. It's probably me at the least subtle and a more overt political piece so I surprised to see that it had one an award in the ex-urbs of the metro.
The show will be up through the end of March.
Phipps Center for the Arts
I'll be exhibiting some new work plus some old favorites at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, WI.
I've been in a few group shows there in the past and this is my first 'two person' show there. I'll be showing in Gallery Two with this awesome painter Sherri Dahl who does these vibrant paintings of junked bicycles and other types of cast away items.
The title of my show is called "Flotsam and Jetsam - For Ships and Giggles'. Yes, it's a silly title, but I didn't want to go with 'colored forms and abstractions'...blah...
I've got most of the work done, but I'm still scrambling on getting one other done. Should be fun!
I am happy to say that I've just been awarded my third Minnesota State Arts Board Artist's Initiative Grant!
It's my third application and third awarding of this grant in a row, so it's a 'Hat Trick' as they say in 'Hockeyspeak'!
I've been spending a lot of time on the computer lately working on a number of proposals this summer and fall for public art, so I haven't been able to be in the studio so much. What's nice about this grant is that I'll be renting a studio specifically to work on wood carving. I'm going to be working on 3-6 pieces that I'm calling my 'figurehead series' based on the carved wooden figures that would sometimes be affixed to the prow of a sailing ship. I'm gonna have a little fun with them as well since I'll be incorporating some of my mixed media toy type sculptures into them and looking to European and American cartoons from the 18th and 19th centuries as a added element.
Other than one piece, this will be my first attempts at making figurative sculpture so it'll be a big challenge to see if I can make it all work.
Showing with a world class sculptor!
I'll be showing off some new work during Art-A-Whirl in the studio of Michael Speaker - Studio 402 B in the Northrop King Building.
Read more about our event!
RHINO’S, TANKS, MICHAEL JORDAN’S HAND and WEIRD TOYS!!!
Please join Sculptors Michael Speaker and Kyle Fokken to where cello’s become ships, rhino’s become furniture, sports heroes turn to bronze and everything in between!
Michael Speaker is recent transplant from to Minneapolis from New York, He graduated with an MFA in painting but found himself working as a scenic artist/special effects sculptor/model-maker in the LA motion picture business. While there he worked on multiple movies and most notably designed and led the construction team for the Firefox Airplane in for the Clint Eastwood film FIREFOX. Since then Michael has thrived as a sculptor for over thirty years showing in galleries and museums and private collections in the US, Japan and Europe. Notable collectors like Frederick Weisman, Michael Jordan, and Nike are just a few. He’s also designed high-end gifts available from Neiman Marcus’s Christmas Catalog. Currently he is working on two incredible commissions that will be on view during Art-A-Whirl. One is a life-size Rhinoceros desk based on an Albrecht Durer Print and twelve bronze portrait plaques of major sports heroes. You can even compare your hand with Michael Jordan's Hand (in bronze) during the event!
Joining Michael is noted local sculptor Kyle Fokken. Kyle’s award winning work is known for its mixed media toy inspired ‘mash-ups’. Kyle has also shown work nationally and internationally in Canada and China and his work was recently featured in the book ‘Traveling DEVICE’ put out by DEVICE Gallery, Los Angeles showcasing some of the world’s top mixed media sculptors. Kyle’s work is featured in the permanent collection of the South Dakota Art Museum and as the backdrop behind President Barak Obama at the Union Depot Railroad Station in St. Paul. He was also an artist featured in TPT Channel 2’s Emmy winning series “Minnesota Original”. Kyle is currently working on a large ‘toy tank’ sculpture that will be unveiled during Art-A-Whirl on the park grounds in front of the Northrop King Building – the ‘King of the Crawl’.
Studio 402 B of the Northrop King Building, 1500 Jackson Street NE, Minneapolis, MN.
Art-A-Whirl’s 20th Anniversary celebration happens on Friday, May 15th (5-10 pm), Saturday May 16th (noon-6pm) and Sunday May17th (noon – 8 pm). 612-598-6647 Kyle or 845-401-4287 Mike
Finalist for Forecast/Landmark Center Public Art Project
Just found out today that I am one of two finalists that is vying for a commission via FORECAST PUBLIC ART and Landmark Center, St. Paul. I was one of 10 artists invited to apply and now it's down to me and one other.
This should be a fun project if I get it since Landmark Center (a former 8th District Courthouse) has been home to an anti war senator, trials of gangster, classical music, and even a former intern at the Minnesota Museum of American Art (that's me!).
After the reception...
Well, the reception at the Hudson Hospital was pretty much how I thought it'd be...a smattering of volunteers, friends and family members and not much else. It would really be nice if there were more active members of the hospital there to show whether they really like the work or not. I'm glad we were there for their entertainment...
I appreciate the sentiment of having a reception, but the show space for my work and much of the other artists is so spread out I really wish they would have had fewer artists and maybe a more concentrated area. But that's the point...they want artwork on their walls all over the place. At least they had coffee and cookies...
Well, the show comes down in another week so I'll be trekking over there to pick it all up. Maybe something will sell...or not.
Another Award and some reasonably good press...
I won 3rd Place in the sculpture division of the Wintertide Biennial Exhibition. My piece "Airway to Heaven" was one of 32 pieces of art out of over 400 pieces submitted. I was happy to be in it, but even happier to win an award! I also got mentioned in some press about the show - a rare occasion in the Star Tribune. Here's the link and another for the website The Examiner. Neither is glowing about my work, but it's still good that they mentioned me. One reviewer gave the show 5/5 stars!
So it can't be all bad.
Winter blooms on the Minneapolis gallery scene
Article by: MARY ABBE , Star Tribune
Updated: January 29, 2015 - 12:50 PM
Two galleries try to revitalize the Minneapolis art scene with a biennial and youthful ideas.
All businesses, even art galleries, need a periodic jump-start to get things hopping again. Enter the “Wintertide” biennial at Public Functionary gallery and the “Common Oasis” show at Gamut Gallery. What the shows and their young venues lack in polish, they make up for with moxie and winning charm.
“Wintertide” is bigger, more ambitious and stylishly presented in Public Functionary’s handsome warehouse in northeast Minneapolis. It features just 32 pieces — paintings, photos, sculpture and mixed-media compositions — by 32 regional artists, most living in the surrounding neighborhood. They were selected from 479 pieces entered by 180 artists.
The biennial was initiated by the Cedarwoods Foundation, a Minnesota nonprofit, in collaboration with the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA) and the gallery. The foundation also put up $10,500 in prize money to entice top-quality artists to compete.
The selection ranges from pure abstractions to photo-realist and slightly surrealistic paintings, from landscapes to documentary photos, and from free-form designs to obsessively detailed folk-style sculpture. It resembles a more rigorously edited mix of the best of the State Fair art show. In fact, keen observers will recognize several pieces from the fair and other metro area shows, notably Kyle Fokken’s folksy “Airway to Heaven” sculpture, which adds airplane wings to a steepled church, and Dean Lucker’s “Moon Hospital,” an elaborate mechanical scene — complete with miniature lights and movable parts — in which three gloomy moons are being nursed and repaired in a field hospital.
Wintertide: Biennial Juried Art Exhibit
Caveat Emptor... A juried show by it's nature is a subjective grab bag collection of works chosen not as impartially as one might think. This idea is old hat for artists and exhibitors, but it’s important to point out for the casual patrons of the arts. The word objectivity is bantered around much too liberally, especially in the juried format, and should be abandoned. The motif of money rears it’s head when awarding prizes, and just because something is popular doesn’t always mean it’s good. A glance at Hollywoods weekend box-office for American Sniper is a testament to this. That being said, the NEMAA Wintertide show at Public Functionary is as good as the juried genre gets.
View all 5 photos
Michael Speaker's Trojan Suit
Director Tricia Khutorestsky’s excellent introduction in the show’s catalog displays a deep understanding of a juried show’s strengths and weaknesses, stating, “Selected works show us potential in a sampling of art, hand-picked as notable in this moment…” The wall to wall attendees at the Saturday night opening are the product of an art hype machine firing on all cylinders. The inclusion of the high quality, and even more importantly affordable, catalog for visitors was a great choice. Public Functionary has hit it’s stride as the place to go and show art in the Twin Cities.
Wintertide walks the tightrope at Public Functionary
Walking a tightrope…
A specter of craft and kitsch subtly haunts some of the jurors selections. In the fine arts, kitsch is not always a crime, but still a concern. Dean Lucker’s exquisitely detailed kinetic puppetry Moon Hospital is a work of undeniable craftsmanship, but displays an all too familiar children's book mythology. A sprinkling of contemporary pixie dust might release the shackles of victorian automata, and give it the chance to evolve into new areas. Easier said than done.
Airway to Heaven is another solid work from mulit-media artist Kyle Fokken. Anyone familiar with his pieces have come to expect this from Fokken, and this style comes as easy for him as shooting fish in a barrel, maybe to a fault. Again, an object displaying great craftsmanship, but teetering a line of Mad Libs punnery.
Wintertide / Hudson Hospital / Sartell Paper mill/ Grant stuff
Well, I've been busy but not producing much.
I've got a show of my work in a group show at the Hudson Hospital in Hudson Wisconsin. I don't expect much out of it - it's just their way of avoiding buying artwork and if they do, it probably won't be mine anyway. I'd love to have my work in a children's or young adult's wing, but it seems that my work has too many physical and psychological sharp edges for these institutions. Well I can dream, right?
I look at it as good storage for the work - better being seen than in the studio.
I've also been working on my maquette for the Sartell Paper Mill which needs to get done soon and of course a working on my MN State Arts Board Grant project with ordering printed tin from China - more on that later.
In the meantime, I've got work in a 'new and exclusive' juried show here in 'Nordeast' Minneapolis. It's a new venture for the North East Minneapolis Arts Association called 'Wintertide'. It's meant as an additional show to benefit members of NEMAA (artists who work in Nordeast). In this case, the added benefit is the chance to show in Public Functionary - an art gallery specializing in artists from out of town, and the opportunity to win some serious cash prizes. So, fingers crossed everyone...
Well, looks like things have been down a lot lately. I've gotten rejected from a major grant, a 'placemaking' spot and even an outdoor sculpture show. Sales have been slow lately too. I do have to remember that I had a big spring and that if what goes up can go down, so what's down can go up as well.
In the meantime, I've been showing work at Doug Flanders Contemporary Art in Minneapolis, and have a show at the Hudson Hospital, in Hudson, WI.
I'm also currently working on my grant project and a reworking of an older piece to submit for a show in a couple of weeks.
Things are looking up!
Luxury Home Tour
Thanks to the fine folks at Flanders and Associates Gallery, I am exhibiting my piece "The Rising Tide" - a sailboat sailing on top of a 'gusher' oil rig - at a model home for the Luxury Home Tour. I wonder if anyone will 'get it'...???
Finalist for the Creative Placemaking in the South Loop (SOLO)!
Well, I've been applying for a lot of things lately and haven't had much time to get into the studio lately. Anyway, at least these things have been bearing fruit! I was chosen as one of 15 finalists to submit designs for the South Loop area of Bloomington, MN. This area is home to a number of hotels, residences, high tech businesses, a national nature preserve on the Mississippi River and of course the mall to end all malls..The Mall of America. This is gonna be quite the challenge since we as artists have to find a way to knit all these things together and to create a more 'urban experience' in the middle of the Twin Cities largest suburb.
There's only 4 slots available, so the odds are against me, but I'm gonna give it my best shot and see how I do. Wish me luck!
Sartell Paper Mill Art Project
I am working with a few artists to re envision some components from the Verso Paper Mill that exploded just over a year ago. We went on site two days ago to find pieces that we could salvage and turn into useable components for a series of parks in the City of Sartell, MN.
We spent some time with some former employees of the mill to get their opinions of what we were doing and hear stories of what it was like to work there and how the community will be affected without such a large plant along the river.
Sounds like we've got our work cut out for us but it should be fun!
Checkout the entire project and see some great photos of the the Mill in its glory via Lead Artist Heidi Jeub.
The opening went well for the show of a number of nationally known sculptors and myself. I am so happy to be a part of this wonderful group!
You can see the show at the Doug Flanders and Associates Gallery in Uptown, Minneapolis thru August 15th.
Artwork is up in the Northeast Minneapolis Library!
An image of my piece "Freerk" is pictured in the Northeast Minneapolis library along with many other northeast artists. It is my second public art piece this year and I'm really happy to be a part of it!
Check it out!
I'm working on two new pieces for the "HEAVY...The Metal Show" coming up next week at the Instinct Gallery in downtown Minneapolis. It looks like it'll be a really great show and I'm very pleased to be showing in such a location with such talented pieces. John Schuerman is a great artist in his own right and has exhibited a lot of talent as a gallerist in the way that he can put so many great artists into such a tiny space.
INSTINCT Art Gallery
940 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN
Saturday, March 22
at 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Heavy: The Metal Show is wrought from the earth and constructed for conceptual and aesthetic pleasures. This exhibition includes 2D and 3D work with metal being the common thread. Come and see how metal, a tangible and traditional medium, is produced into contemporary expressions.
Featuring the work of Karen Searle, David Aschenbrener, Irve Dell, Kyle Fokken, Tina Blondell, Shelly Mosman, Katayoun Amjadi, and Mayumi Amada.
Another First Place Award!
There have been times when I sort of expected to win an award and many times where that flat out wasn't the case. This time, I didn't expect anything and was really surprised by it!
Here is a little note in the Minneapolis StarTribune (Strib) about it.
Kyle Fokken took first place honors for his mixed media sculpture "Fokko."
Members of the Society of Minnesota Sculptors turned out for the opening of an exhibit of art by their colleagues at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts, on view through April 3. The society's 85 members are an eclectic lot whose work typically tends toward whimsical, figurative or abstract pieces in wire, bronze, ceramic or mixed media.
Jurors Sally Johnson of Groveland Gallery and Holly Streekstra of Minneapolis College of Art and Design presented ribbon awards to: Kyle Fokken for "Fokko," a mixed media sculpture that took first place; Richards Poey for "Let's Tango, a bronze sculpture in second place; and Kate Chrisopher, whose ceramic bust, "My Vanishing Illusion," took third place.
Honorable mentions went to Thomas Zahn for his bronze "Solo Dance," Carl A. Smith III, for a wire sculpture, "My Eyes are Here," and Norman Holen for his stoneware piece, "Man with an Owl Mask."
The society is also sponsoring a one-day workshop by Twin Cities area sculptor Foster Wiley, Jr. who will explain how to "Sculpt a Head in Clay." (10 a.m. - 5 p.m. March 15, Minnetonka Center for the Arts, 2240 Northshore Dr., Wayzata/ Orono. To register go here or call 952-473-7261, ext. 16)
Obama at the Union Depot! Maybe he's see my train sculptures?
I'm so pleased that the President of the United States will be speaking in our wonderfully refurbished Union Depot to talk about all the prospects of rail travel in Minnesota. Hopefully, he's see my pieces and respond to them and maybe the press will get some pix too.
Walker Art Center - Walker on the Green - Artist Designed Mini Golf
Yes! I got one of the holes for the Walker Art Center Mini Golf Course on the grounds of the Walker Sculpture Garden.
My piece "Peril in the Garden" is a loose take on a 'carny game' combined with the idea of an snake in the 'Garden of Eden' or in this case the Walker Sculpture Garden.
My par 4 hole is designed to meet the grounds specifications of the garden by being very compact. It uses a few tricks to challenge the golfer. It has a small ramp to launch the ball into the mouth of the serpent and roll down it's coiled back to a channel at the bottom. Once it hits that, the tail of the rattlesnake shakes making a rattling sound. The ball then rolls from the channel underneath to the green where the golfer has to put it past a couple of obstacles - plants and stones.
Not crazy hard, but tricky enough given that many families - including mine will be using it to entertain their kids.
Speaking of kids, it really makes me happy that my kids can play with a sculpture that I designed.
First Place Sculpture - Again! And some good press!
I decided to enter the 'Arts in Harmony' show the local ex-urb of Elk River about 45 minutes outside of Minneapolis. I won the first prize for sculpture there a few years back and was thinking it'd be fun to do it again. I'd always rather have my work out in front of people than sitting in storage and fortunately, I usually win an award or two for my efforts. At the very least that helps defray the cost of not being able to sell much in Minnesota. I also look at it as a way to build value on my resume and social media.
I don't look at is as bragging, but in 'Minnesota Nice' land we've really got to get past this stoic self deprecating culture and blow our own horns since no one else will, eh?
Oh, and here's the newspaper link - even got a photo.
Finally done! My Union Depot Commission is up!
Yes, it's finally done!
It's been a long road - almost a year this spring when I got the word that I was awarded my first public art commission. I learned a lot in this process and I hope that everyone enjoys the result.
Anyway, here's some brief explanations of the pieces.
Each piece has a train related name - The Occidental Express, The East Friesian Flyer and the Asymtotic Line. The pieces are based on the bas relief frieze that runs directly over the pieces and are mean to represent the construction of the Trans Continental Rail Line from the past (as seen from the west coast) to the present ( 1920's when the station was built) to a 'retro-futuristic' monorail like the types of artist renderings I'd see as a kid in the late sixties and early seventies. The sails on the covered wagon are a play on the idea of a covered wagon being called a 'prairie schooner'. I chose a 'junk', a Chinese boat to represent the workers from China who labored to build the rail line from the west (Occidental) coast. The train in the middle is to represent my ancestors who came from Ostfriesland/Frislan a region that straddles the German/Dutch boarder. I based the piece on my grandmother's black flowered sewing machine and pictured how she may have arrived from Germany via Ellis Island. The last piece is a make believe piece in that no one really knows what the future holds so why not make it fantastic? It is loosely based on an 'X-Wing' fighter from Star Wars, my Japanese chef's knife and a hand held vacuum cleaner.
Each bridge/trestle represents a bridge in downtown St. Paul. The wooden bridge has the shape of the Robert Street Bridge, the lift bridge is the most literal since it mimics the Union Pacific Lift Bridge trestle and the final one is based on the High Bridge. I designed the pieces to tilt down to represent the setting sun of the past, the straight one in the middle to represent the present and the one pointing up as the future.
One of my local artist friends accused me one time of not making anything that doesn't have to do with flight. I think he may be right.
Each of these pieces has some sort of flight element to it either being sails, aircraft wings or graphic bird wings. You can decide which is which from the pix. I did also place my first pair of 'wings' from my first jet flight when I was 25 to a ceramic artists convention in Tempe, AZ. I asked for a pair of 'wings' that they give to kids on their first flight on a plane. Since I was flying North West Airlines (a now defunct MN airline) they have the NWA logo with gold wings on each side. I placed it on the front of the 'future train' piece as a little homage to them and my first trip.
Well, hopefully, people will enjoy these pieces as much and if not more than I did designing and making them. I hope that people will use them as markers to where they can find their appropriate exit to a bus, local train or high speed rail to Chicago and beyond.
Thank you to everyone who was involved in making this process happen.
MSAB ARTIST INITIATIVE GRANT!
Yup, I got another grant! This is my second one in two years! You can only apply every other year so this makes my second grant in a row!
It's an honor of course and the money is good, but I know that I've got a lot of work lined up for me in the next number of months. It's a good problem to have and I hope that what I do works out. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Kyle L. Fokken
Fokken will explore the process of printing on metal, with the goal of making production 'tin-toys' of various sizes; the largest will be displayed in a public park.
I installed my brackets for my Union Depot Public Art piece last Monday.
Things are progressing, but as I stated, some of it is slow going. I'll be very happy when this piece is completed and I can look a all three 'fantasy trains' projecting out from the wall in the Depot.
North East Library Public Art Project Finalist
Well, I submitted my final image for the Northeast Minneapolis Library Public Art Project. I was contacted about a week ago with the news that I had made the first round by FORECAST's director, Mr. Jack Becker.
My piece "Freerk (Flying Dog Series)" was chosen for this round so we'll have to see if the image makes it into the final collection of 42 images that comprise of a representation of some of the best artists in Northeast Minneapolis.
Society of Minnesota Sculptors Member Show at Gallery 13
Hope everyone can make it out for this great show. My piece "Coffee Tin Battleship" is featured on the front of the postcard. There is a lot of really great work being shown from a diverse collection of member's work.
Check it out!
Twin Cities Public Television's Minnesota Original online article on the MN State Fair
Here's a great little interview with me and featuring my "Song of the Flying Dutchman" 3rd Place winning sculpture.
MNO Alumni at the Fair
August 21, 2013
The gates for the Great Minnesota Get Together don’t open for another couple days, but Minnesota arts fans already have plenty to get excited about: 2013 Fine Arts Competition winners were announced at last night’s Fine Arts Preview Night. With all of the winners’ art collected under one roof at the Fine Arts Center, the State Fair actually serves as Minnesota’s largest juried art exhibit. This year, part of the Fine Arts Center will also be turned from gallery into a studio space as part of Studio: HERE, which will provide a rare glimpse into how art is created. MNO alumni are well-represented between Studio: HERE participants and Fine Arts Competition winners. We’ve got a video round-up of MNO alumni and 2013 Fine Arts Competition winners at the bottom of this page. To get more perspective on the State Fair’s Fine Arts exhibition, we spoke with Kyle Fokken, who was featured on MN Original #317, and also received a 3rd Place Award in Sculpture this year.
MNO: What have your experiences participating in the Fine Arts exhibition at the Minnesota State Fair been like?
Kyle Fokken: I love the Minnesota State Fair Art Show! I think there is so much wonderful variety that it hits so many tastes and styles. You never know who the juror is and what he or she will think of your work and whether it will make it in the exhibition. The visual arts community (at least in the metro) is a small community and everyone knows most everyone else and/or their work, making it a politically challenging exercise. I think this is my third “Third Place” award which makes me pleased, but I’d still like something higher.
As an artist, you always feel that your work is the best until you see work that blows yours out of the water and demands your respect. I always learn something new whenever I go and I appreciate the opportunity to show with so many great artists of all disciplines.
MNO: What does this award mean to you?
KF: Gas in the car and money to pay the photographer. If you are lucky or want to splurge, you can pay it forward and use it as an opportunity to buy someone else’s artwork. Being a working artist means that you celebrate the victory of winning an award but at the end of the day you need those funds to help you to keep on doing what you’re doing. With my piece “Song of the Flying Dutchman,” I would love it to be the centerpiece of someone’s lovely home or as part of a public art collection in an art or musical institution. It is one of my favorite pieces and I just love the romance that comes with the merger of classical music, sailing ships and the open sea. I have a ‘violin’ version in bronze in case anyone is interested. Please see my website for details – www.kylefokken.com. (Shameless plug, of course.)
MNO: How is showing at the Minnesota State Fair different than any other ‘arts only’ shows?
KF: I think it is very egalitarian from both the artists and the viewer’s perspective. In most art shows you have to have a body of work to submit whereas the Fair only allows for one piece. This allows beginners and professionals to compete side by side and mixes things up a bit which keeps the event fresh. I also like the idea that there is truly something for everyone. This exhibit allows me to show my work to a larger audience who may never have been to an art show or would never venture into a gallery. It also allows viewers to visually ‘taste’ a variety of different artistic ‘flavors’ and develop a richer ‘pallet’ and better artist ‘taste’.
It’s always hard to know if this sampling will lead to sales, but I look at it as part of my overall marketing strategy since so many people see the show and it is highly regarded in the artistic community. Best of all, it’s free!
Third Place and the Jennifer and William Oliver Awards!
It was nice to get these two awards at the Minnesota State Fair. It's a big deal in these parts and I've been fortunate to get in on more than a few occasions since it is so competitive. I've also won a number of awards over the years, but so far, haven't broken past the 3rd Place mark. Oh, well. It was nice to get the additional award although I do not know if the people named in the award are actually the ones that assign it or if there's some sort of proxy system. Either way, both were a nice surprise and I'm happy with the recognition and the prize money.
The only thing left would be to get a People's Choice or Kid's Choice Award. I got the Kid's Choice Award a couple years back (along with another 3rd Place and some other award) so it'd be nice to get something like that again too.
You can see my piece plus a lot of other great works in the Fine Arts Building at the MN State Fair starting today and going through Labor Day.
Wheehewww! Glad that's over...
What an intense winter/spring!
Lots of things to get completed and a lousy weather season to boot!
Anyway, I had my final presentation for my Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant in April at the Kolman and Pryor Gallery. My final report was due before the end of May. In the meantime, I spent some time hanging out with students and staff at North Dakota State University in Fargo,ND. it was the first time I've had a residency and it was tough to be away from the wife and kids. It was a great experience and I got to meet a number of nice people and promising artists up there. I was a little concerned about the flood danger as well, but we dodged the bullet and it was a lot lower and a week later than anticipated.
I also went down to Mason City, IA for their Sculptures on Parade program. I had to repaint my piece "All in the Same Boat" and show off some of my smaller work at a gala they hosted for us. They put us up in a wonderful Historic Frank Lloyd Wright hotel which was very cool!
I also have work in Yankton's RiverWalk in Yankton, SD, Eau Claire's SculptureTour, in Eau Claire, WI and in Mankato's CityArt Sculpture Tour, in Mankato, MN. I wasn't able to install those myself due to other family commitments but plan on checking them out.
To add to my stress, I showed in 6 locations during Art-A-Whirl (big studio tour in my neighborhood- over 600 artists and roughly 50k people coming to our 5k neighborhood) and even curated a show of eight artists (including myself) in a new venue.
Also, I wound up getting a public art commission for the Union Depot Rail Station. I'm designing (see the project proposals section of my site) 3 fantasy trains that mimic the frieze in the classic 1908 rail station waiting room. They'll be jutting from the walls akin to the train coming out of the fireplace in a Margritte painting. They'll be mounted on roughly 5 ft long trestles high above everyone's heads. They'll look pretty cool.
I've also submitted some images for a book and a show in Los Angeles, CA via the DEVICE Gallery. They're putting together a book and show called "Traveling DEVICE" which should happen this fall.
I've also got a show setup for the MAD Museum (kinetic Art) in London, England. It should be fun and I hope to be able to bring the wife and kids next year.
Oh, and I finally shipped off my commission that had been taking a back seat to all these other things. It's titled "Fletje" and is a re-imagining of a piece I made a few years back. The customers lost the original in a forest fire that claimed their home. They loved it so much, they built a special alcove for another sculpture in their new home and asked me to make a piece similar in shape and tone. I was happy to oblige, but it is a challenge to revisit a place where you used to be artistically.
Like I said - 'Whew!". Anyway, onward and upward!
Juicy Steak Moustache II
I will be showing work for the second time in this show. Last year's JSM was so well received that they decided to do it again.
Opening reception is Saturday, March 23rd. See below for details.
Hope you can make it!
The Twin Cities’ brightest artists come together for an unconventional art show to launch the new Kolman & Pryor Gallery
The Anita Sue Kolman Gallery in the Northrup King Building has been a celebrated gallery for two years, launching and recognizing some of the Twin Cities’ most unique visual artists, including
Betsy Ruth Byers; Kelly Jean Ohl; Karl Unnasch; Patrick Kemal Pryor; Jodi Reeb-Myers; and Kate Casanova, who was featured on the cover of City Pages for the alt-weekly’s Artists of the Year issue.
Pryor, an abstract painter, has been curating the unique shows at the gallery for two years, creating shows such as “Fashioned: One Becomes Another,” in 2011, which saw him collaborate with Project Runway designer Christopher Straub to turn his abstract images into fashion pieces that were like mobile three-dimensional sculptures.
“To have a good partnership, you challenge each other,” says Kolman of their unique relationship, in which ideas bounce around and off one another like a pinball machine. Together, the two are like all of the other great pairs in history, finishing each other’s sentences or adding comical trajectories.
“Juicy Steak Moustache II” opens the new Kolman & Pryor Gallery, on Saturday, March 16, and runs through Saturday, May 11. An opening night party on March 23, from 7 pm till 10 pm, will showcase the unique show and new partnership.
“It seemed like the perfect show to open,” Pryor says. “Because we really like to have fun. And this show is all about interactive fun.”
Also featured will be works by painter, Emily Bennett Beck, who turns pop-culture iconography into often excruciating images; Kyle Fokken, who creates modern toy mash-ups using antique found objects; Danny Saathoff, who creates peculiar mechanical works and timepieces that beg users to slow down; and Dave Beck, whose 3D images are virtual sculptures of both the odd and mundane.
“I don’t want anyone to be afraid to come in here,” says Pryor. “I want it to be a space that reflects our unique artists but also welcomes people to be a part of it. This show really reflects that.”
Each of the pieces¬—from a flock of butterflies powered by a hand crank to a performance where participants are asked to draw on the gallery walls and kiss the artists—inspire people to think and interact in a unique way.
My First Public Art Commission!!!
I'm happy to say that the Union Depot Rail Station will now feature not one , but 3 of my unique pieces! I proposed the work in 'tiers' to comply with possible budget constraints, but they loved all the pieces so much, they decided to fund all 3!
I'm still waiting for instructions as to what my timeline is on it, but I'll keep you posted.
Union Depot Finalist!
I found out last week that I am a finalist for the Union Depot Station - small artworks project!
Second Place - Visual Arts Minnesota
Yes, I got Second Place for my piece "Cultivator" at Visual Arts Minnesota's 13th Annual 'Essential Art' Show. This is the second of two awards I've gotten in a show via this organization's exhibitions. The show was held at the Paramount Theater in St. Cloud, MN and runs until February 14th.
CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour - 3rd Place!
This was a nice surprise!
I got 3rd Place for my piece "Klompenboot". I love this piece, but I really didn't think it would win any awards in a moderately small city like Mankato, MN.
It's nice to get surprises every once in a while, eh?
Checkout my piece (it's for sale!) and others via their website.
Ups and Downs
Well, everything doesn't always go my way, so it's important to talk about that as well as any successes.
Yes, I've been fortunate to win a number of awards, but there have more than plenty of times that I've been passed over or outright rejected. When I was first starting out more than a decade or so ago, I remember getting letters back from the galleries that I was applying for telling me that my application had all kinds of things wrong with it.
One of the most glaring was my handwritten notes (front, back, dimensions) on the slides (anyone remember them?) I was sending out. I don't have the best of handwriting to begin with and being amped up on coffee and filling out my applications during my lunch breaks from the mortgage company didn't help matters any.
Nonetheless, I persevered, learned from my mistakes and keep at it.
So, just recently, I got a nice award in cash at a small local show, but got totally ignored for a big show where I've taken top honors and first place a combined total of 3 times. Getting ignored even for the small awards felt like a really big injustice, but I've got to remember that for all the times that I've been a juror, there are others who've not liked my choices for awards.
Ultimately, it is up to one or a small group of people that make these choices and you've just got to learn to roll with them.
So, I've got to take my lumps too and move on to the next project.
Now Officially Collectable!
Yes, that's right folks, my work has been bought by a museum! I currently have work up in a two man show at the South Dakota Art Museum and they decided that they needed to have a genuine Kyle Fokken!
They purchased the piece "Uptet (Babylonian Gunship) just last week after keeping me on pins and needles about it for over a month.
I suspect that they also purchased a piece from printmaker Brett Anderson who is showing with me, but I haven't checked in with him.
So, the next time you are in Brookings, South Dakota, take a little time out to visit "Uptet" in the permanent collection. Also checkout the paintings of Harvey Dunn, the reason for the museum. Phenomenal stuff!
American Tourister for Bikes for Africa
I was asked to make a piece of sculpture for this project. The piece I made was "American Tourister" and features a wooden shoe/tractor/race car made with a minimum of 25 various parts made by the SRAM Corporation.
The benefit reception will be held in New York City on November 29th at the Cedar Lake Theater
547 W. 26th St., New York, NY, 10001
(212) 244-0015 -http://cedarlakedance.com
Hope to see you there!
UPDATE - My piece sold for more than I was expecting! I didn't win any prizes, but the money went to a good cause.
BTW, checkout Lewis Tardy's piece from last year. He's a friend of mine from Michigan and he won the grand prize of a trip to a country in Africa
where the Bikes for Africa is making a difference.
Check out his piece via the link (http://www.sram.com/partproject/) and/or go to his website www.tardysculpture.com.
The SRAM pART PROJECT is back, bigger than ever. pART PROJECT NYC debuts this November with twice as many artists and a whole new way to transform bike parts into art.
It’s art that’s continuing to make a difference. And a big splash, too.
For the New York City event, 95 noted artists will contribute original pieces created from SRAM components – including, for the first time, works of collage as well as sculpture. The artworks will be featured in a juried gallery exhibition, then sold at a gala live auction event.
The auction is scheduled for November 29th at the Cedar Lake Theatre in New York City. One hundred percent of the proceeds will be donated to World Bicycle Relief.
First- and second-place prizes will be awarded in the collage and sculpture categories. There will also be one overall grand-prize winner, who will receive an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Africa to witness the work of World Bicycle Relief firsthand.
Minnesota State Arts Grant
I won a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist's Initiative Grant! Finally!
I won it based on the portfolio of my work plus a desire to make more work to better handle the outdoors. In doing so, part of the money goes for a ventilation system so that I don't get sick when working with stainless steel and towards experimentation with my new materials.
Now, I've got to get to work...
I had three pieces in the "Sculpture by the River" show at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, WI and won three awards!
I won 'Second Place" for my "Airway to Heaven" piece (a piece that's won a number of awards already) and "Honorable Mention" for my "Song of the Flying Dutchman" piece. The 'Dutchman' piece mentioned above also won me a "People's Choice" award.
Not a bad haul - helps to defray the costs of making the pieces anyway. Anyone wanna buy a flying church?
Yes, I am now a "Minnesota Original" if that really means anything. I figure if you do anything long enough, you'll get known by it, so thar ya go.
Anyway, I am honored to be part of Twin Cities Public Televisions' "Minnesota Original" program, now in it's third season. I was very happy to be picked for my 6-10 minute segment since the show only runs a half hour and dedicates the other two thirds to poets, writers, music, dance and theater. So all in all, I lucked out. I am also fortunate to be in the company of many great artists in this northern state and am happy we have an outlet to showcase the talent of local artists.
This has been in the works for some time. They originally contacted me for the 1st season, but had to bow out in favor of other work last summer. Then, they contacted me in November of 2011 and finally got something shot in my studio on Valentine's Day of this year. So, it can be a long process.
Anyway, look for it in another month or so - late April, early May on TPT Channel 2. Checkout other episodes streaming online via their website -http://www.mnoriginal.org/.
Gearing up for another opening
Yes, another opening in St. Cloud, only this time it's a solo show in a downtown 'pop up' gallery sponsored by Visual Arts Minnesota. My friend Heidi Steadman and her batch of intrepid volunteers have been doing a great job revitalizing the scene and bringing in new life to the area.
Anyway, it should be a fun time since I'll get to see a lot of old friends and from the web traffic to my site, it looks like there will be a number of people out for the event - must be the food provided by the sponsors - Bravo Burrittos!
It's the last show they are doing in this space and I'm happy to show off my new 'celloship' piece "The Song of the Flying Dutchman" as seen on the homepage of this site.
Hopefully, I'll see you there!
Here's the info and the link.
Visual Arts Minnesota and 912 Art Gallery presents the work of Kyle Fokken. The exhibit will be from December 5 – 30, 2011 in downtown St. Cloud. A reception will be held on December 9, from 7-9pm at the 912 Art Gallery, located at 912 West St. Germain Street. The reception is free and open to the public, sponsored by DealChicken. Food will be provided by Bravo Burrito, cash bar by DB Searles.
Antique toys directly inspire Fokken’s sculptures, speak to the transfer of beliefs, values and prejudices between generations. Fokken says, "I use distressed materials to convey an 'antique' aesthetic, to emphasize that these beliefs have been long established but are decayed and in need of renewal or examination."
Fokken grew up in a small farming town on the Great Plains in West Central Minnesota. He graduated from St. Cloud State University with a BFA in ceramic sculpture and a minor in business. His inspiration is fueled by imagination, “All those experiences living in a farming community, being close to machinery in a town where there wasn't a lot to do, is what led me to be an artist. I think that your creativity soars when you have to make do with what you have and find ways to entertain yourself through your own imagination.”
Fokken’s sculptures can be found in many public art exhibitions and commissions, galleries and museums and private collections. For more information, go to www.kylefokken.com .
This exhibit is the last of a 4 month exhibition series for the 912 Art Gallery, in the beautiful Regency Event Center. Gallery hours are Mondays 11-3pm, Thursdays 11-3pm, 5-8pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5-8pm. Restricted hours around holidays. Please check website for details www.visualartsminnesota.org http://www.visualartsminnesota.org> under 912 Art Gallery link.
Another great review in Louisville!
Kyle Fokken at the Garner Narrative
Review by Mary Margaret Sparks
On November 4, while walking across the street for the downtown gallery hop, I noticed an interesting sculpture through the front window of the Garner Narrative Gallery. It was a beast-like creature made of mechanical parts resembling a robot. It was “Lord of the Rings meets Star Wars” and linked me back to my junior high and high school days. Being a lover of both sculpture and nostalgia, I was drawn into the gallery to view the rest of the work by Minnesota artist Kyle Fokken. His work takes a modern approach to antiques and machinery with works including everything from antique toy trucks to churches.
Works in the exhibition include “Airway to Heaven” a giant airplane and “Wrecker (Church Series IV)” a church building attached to a wrecker crane. Both sculptures include functional and kinetic aspects such as lighting and are composed of many small parts including bike chains. The artist fuses materials together to create unique images reflecting on war, childhood, religion, fantasy, memories,etc.
On close observation, it’s obvious the dedication that Fokken takes when choosing how to construct each sculpture. Each work is handcrafted not only in its build but also in its appearance. The patina work is beautiful and the artist’s use of color adds a vibrancy to the wood and metal. His fascination with history and society create for a unique 3-dimensional show.
My work is based on a love of antique toys as viewed from a modern perspective. We are naturally drawn to relics of days gone past. In my artwork, I fuse this nostalgia with “visionary” art – art often made by people using scrap material and rough construction. Like these artists, I’m not a “junk sculptor” because my focus is not on the found object itself, but on how I can use objects to fulfill my vision. I employ this technique as a metaphor implying the bond between generations “making do” with available materials and the cultural legacy of values and ideals. (Kyle Fokken Artist Statement)
The exhibition is free to the public and will be up during the December First Friday Gallery Hop on December 2 from 6-9PM. The exhibition runs through January. Garner Narrative Gallery is located at 642 E. Market Street.
The Kyle Fokken exhibition is the third for the Garner Narrative a new endeavor for artist Joyce Garner and her daughter Angie Reed Garner. Initially the Garner Furnish Studio, the gallery closed in early 2011, renovated and re-opened as Garner Narrative Contemporary Fine Art. They began representing artists in September 2011.
Garner Narrative is accepting proposals for exhibitions; with the focus on contemporary narrative art in any media. They have two gallery spaces — one quite large and then another scaled for more intimate work — as well as four window spaces viewable from Clay Street perfect for wall-mounted installations.
Learn more about Garner Narrative Contemporary Fine Art
Nice review of my show at Garner Narrative Contemporary Fine Arts
Monday, November 7, 2011
Exhibit Review by Keith Waits: Kyle Fokken
Kyle Fokken at garner narrative contemporary fine art
Airway to Heaven, mixed media sculpture
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright 2011 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
When a young child grasps a toy in their hands, it is an object that sparks imagination and creativity. In that same way, Kyle Fokken’s sculptures become a catalyst for intellectual stimulation in the adult mind. Perhaps they trigger a return to childhood playtime: each is fundamentally a toy, a truck, an airplane, a construction crane. Yet these mixed media creations are also idiosyncratic mash-ups of form and function: the operator’s cabin on the construction crane is a ramshackle church – the crane arm protruding from beneath the façade and anchored by a chain that runs through a window, nearly an act of penetrative violence. The positioning of a house of worship as a vehicle of destruction is a provocative juxtaposition in an age when we witness religion as a foundation for terrorism.
But that impact is perhaps balanced by the contrasting image of another church structure serving as the fuselage of an airplane, lifting the spiritual into more traditional territory, albeit with the same idiosyncratic relationships of form and function.
In other pieces, the stylistic combinations are more complex and subtle, such as the steam-punk anamorphism of “Uptet (Babylonian Gunship),” a quadripedal creature that seems a cross between a camel and the family pet, but equipped with giant propellers ready to take the steel and wood construction aloft. Mr. Fokken’s work is filled with cultural references, and in this instance it is difficult not see something of the Imperial Walkers from Empire Strikes Back: they have the same tension between awkward, lumbering mass and graceful, intricate design.
The detail and craftsmanship are distinctive, and the found objects that Mr. Fokken incorporates never seem random or haphazard, but exactly the right choices for each piece. There is, however, one sculpture, “Difficult to Fathom,” that stands apart from the rest in this show. The merging of a church onto a submarine body is entirely consistent, but the dynamic placement of the contraption trawling across the scalp of a singularly annoyed sailor introduces a more straightforwardly comic image of a human face that could also be viewed as self-portrait. Whether or not the head bears any resemblance to the artist, the whimsical depiction of art emerging from the creative mind is unmistakable.
This three-dimensional exhibit represents something of a departure for this space, having devoted itself for years to largely two-dimensional work from its proprietor, Joyce Garner, and a few select others. But this past summer the gallery was renovated so that the space underwent small but crucial adjustments. Mr. Fokken’s work highlights the new environment and suggests a more ambitious mission for garner narrative that should prove welcome in what is already the busiest and most vital visual arts neighborhood in Louisville.
Difficult to Fathom, leather over wood, steel, found object
Wrecker (Church Series IV), acrylic paint over wood
Uptet (Babylonian Gunship) tempered scrap steel (soup, tomato cans) over wood, acrylic
garner narrative contemporary fine art
642 E. Market @ Clay
Louisville, KY 40202
hours: Wed-Sat 1-6, First Friday Gallery Hop 1-9
Children's Choice? Is this a trend???
Yesterday, I got an award for the Hopkins Artstreet outdoor sculpture competition. I got the "Children's Choice Award" for my piece "Shoo-Shoe Train". I have to admit that I was bummed that I didn't get first place, but am still very happy to have gotten the award. It seems odd that I've been getting these types of awards lately since I usually never get any 'people's choice' type of awards because in years past my work has been too out there for normal folks. Anyway, in addition to Third Place in Sculpture at the State Fair, I got a "Kid's Choice Award" there as well. Again, I'm happy, but am starting to wonder if I either am headed in a new direction that will get me more cashe and big commissions, or maybe I should just chuck it and head another, more serious direction like I originally set out to do. Maybe there's something with having children lowers your testosterone and I'm getting mellow.
Minnesota State Fair 100th Anniversary
Well I got in again and am pleased to announce that I won an award - 3rd Place!
I can't say that I didn't want 1st this time, but there's no control over what the juror will pick. I'm just happy to get in and get a few extra bucks and some prestige for doing so. Hopefully, there will be a lot of people who see it and like it over the new 10 days or so.
BTW, this is my 4th award - I got 4th the first time I entered in 2001, then 3rd the next year, skipped a couple of years (didn't pre reg, forgot, and had one rejection), one piece with no award (plenty of press tho') then last year got 5th place and now this year 3rd. All in all not bad - I suspect I may have gotten more awards than anyone else, but it has been around for a hundred years, so the odds are I haven't. Anyway, I'd like to get first one time -where is the love.....Ha!
Recent and upcoming shows
I've been busy...and most of my updates have been on the AKA site. Sorry bout that.
Anyway, I'm just finishing up on the Art of the Self Portrait that comes down on Saturday, April 30th. Great response, but no sale. I did get an award for a piece I did at the Spiritual Art Show - Honorable Mention, but at least I got my entry fee back! Ha! I've been goaded into doing this show for a number of years, so I finally relented. I think of being an artist a 'monastic quest' of a sort and most of my imagery hasn't been very 'spiritual'. Anyway, I like the piece I did which is titled "Toolbox". Just like it sounds, it's a metal toolbox with a metal steeple attached. I'll post pix later - just haven't gotten around to doing it yet. Is it a place one reaches for spiritual "tools" or is a place where "tools" (ie-losers) reside? I like the dual meaning that leaves it up to the viewer to decide.
Well, the next show is part of an open studio tour at the Traffic Zone Studios in downtown Minneapolis. It's a rather posh place for people who buy their studios a lot like a condo vs renting. I'm showing with a wonderful photographer and friend by the name of Steve Ozone. Check his work out via the link in the 'LINKS' page.
I'll also be showing at Spot Art Gallery in Northeast Mpls for Art-A-Whirl - one big ass art crawl/party happening the third weekend of May.
And finally, I'm getting ready for putting a new piece in the Sioux Falls Sculpture Walk. I've got progress pix in the "PROJECT PROPOSALS" section.
I'm stressed, but it's a good stress in the sense that I'm in demand and working towards some new goals.
Wish me luck
New Blog space - Applied Kinetic Arts (AKA)
Well, I took another step into being more connected.
I was asked by a great artist in the mixed media/kinetic realm to join he and others working in this media and blog a little here and there.
As you can tell, I'm not the best at this, but I figured it's just another channel to get my work out in front of people, network and a nice side benefit - the discipline to document and write about my work at each stage of construction.
Check it out and tell me what you think.
St. Cloud Times Article
Last Sunday, I got a little press in the St. Cloud Times regarding my show at St. Cloud State University. I was hoping for more along with some pix that I had submitted, but no dice. Anyway, press is press so I'll just chalk it up to experience.
Here's the entire article - well, my portion of it at the tail end of a theater review entitled "Fine arts column: Musical pays homage to Alexander's bad day"
Kyle Fokken exhibit at SCSU
Almost two decades after graduation, Minnesota artist Kyle Fokken is back at his alma mater. Fokken’s whimsical creations will be displayed at St. Cloud State University’s Atwood Gallery until Jan. 13. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Fokken’s work is based on a love of antique toys.
“You let the art dictate the form to you. I don’t always start out with a definitive form in mind. I have a general idea for the feeling of the piece,” Fokken said.
Fokken’s passion for merging found objects began in childhood when he created his own toy models.
“When I was a kid, I was pretty poor. I used to make a lot of model airplanes and cars,” Fokken said. “I couldn’t afford all the kits, so I’d go the library and (find a picture) of what I wanted to make and then find the parts that would go in there.”
Atwood Gallery hours are 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on the weekend.
For details, visit www.kylefokken.com.
Funny thing is, that I talked to my parents the other day and they stated that a former schoolmate (a few years younger than me, I think) saw it in the paper and told my hometown newspaper about it. They in turn contacted my parents for permission to publish it and there ya go - I've got street cred in Clara City! BTW, don't look for it online since, I just checked their website and it hasn't been updated since February 25th, 2009!
Anyway, here's the links for both sites in case you need more info:
Close but no cigar!
I was a finalist for the North East Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA)'s upcoming Art-A-Whirl Catalog. I was one of six selected and the only sculptor. The graphics person chose one of my small panel truck "toys" which I thought was interesting since they're not terribly indicative of my larger body of work. Never the less, I think the way she used the piece as a backdrop for the text was very good and I really appreciated her using it.
You can see my image, the other finalists and of course the winner via the link below. All of those chosen were great and work well as a graphic to bring people to NE Minneapolis during Art-A-Whirl - the third weekend in May for the past 15 or so years.
"Kyle Fokken's Elegant Smash UPS" on MPR
A short interview and photos are featured on Marianne Combs blog "State of the Arts on the Minnesota Public Radio's website.
Fall Fine Arts Show
Well, it looks like my piece "Airway to Heaven" has gotten the nod for 'Best of Show' or 'First Place' for this year's NEMAA Fall Fine Arts Show.
This is my third time winning it and frankly I was a bit surprised by it since it seems that the last few years only painters have been winning this award. Musta been the mostly male jurors..Ha!
Sculpture Walk Sioux Falls 2011
Yes, it happened again!
I got another piece of sculpture that's headed to Sioux Falls. It's a proposal piece in that it hasn't been built yet. This leads to a lot of new challenges as to what I can do with outdoor work and is always a bit of a struggle. At least with each new piece, I earn another arrow in my quiver (or earn the rank of "Fries" pinned on my Hardee's uniform). Hopefully this will prove that I can make interesting outdoor work that is more than just a rusting hulk or dirty bronze.
Wish me luck!
"Best of Show Award" Other Material - Sioux Falls Sculpture Walk
Well, I did it again. I think this is kinda a hat trick of sorts since it's my third "Best of Show" award there. The first one and this last one are both "Best of Show- Other Material" (non-bronze) and my second award was "Best of Show Overall" (all categories). So, technically not a hat trick or even a threepeat. Ha!
Anyway, it's good to get and I got a few more bucks for materials and tools and to pay for the last one plus another bump on the resume.
I'm still looking to score a nice purchase award, but that's how things go sometimes.
I still need a place to put it when it comes down in Maybe if it doesn't sell or get moved to another location.
Anyone want to buy a "yellow submarine"???
Castlegar News Article
Well, here it is. I thought I'd post an image of the whole article in case you'd like to see it.
Interview with Castlegar News! and other things.
Dear Diary... it's been a while....
Well, I really have to get used to using this blog/news screen every now and again. Just hard enough to find time to work on grants/public art applications, etc much less sculpture.
Anyway, it's been a good week. I just sold 3 pieces to an artist who runs a gallery in Cokato, MN. He operates under the moniker "The Art Pig". Go check out his wonderful child like drawings and paintings via his site (see the links page or google "Art Pig" and you'll find him), the Grand Hand Gallery in St. Paul,MN and Minnetonka Center for the Arts. I also sold a nice piece to a ceramic artist via Gallery 13 in Downtown Minneapolis. Needless to say, I bought some good scotch a couple of tools and the rest I'm saving for a shed to put all the non artwork related things such as bikes, lawn more etc in so that I have room to work. Oh, and my piece "Uptet (Babylon Gunship)" got accepted to the MN State Fair.
I'm going to be conducting an interview tomorrow with Castlegar News in Castlegar BC, Canada. Hopefully it'll go well since the interviewer seems pretty cool and I'm sure it'll be a nice way to promote the Castlegar Sculpture Walk that I am a part of.
That's all for now!
My first international show!
Yes, I'm going international! Not that it's that hard these days, but there ya go.
I will be featured in an outdoor competition in Castlegar, BC in Canada (not that far from Whistler and the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics) this spring. It's their first foray into the "Sculpture Walk" franchise based in Sioux Falls, SD and I am happy to be a part of it. I also will be included in the "Sculpture Walk Sioux Falls" this spring as well. I've won awards in Sioux Falls including "First Place" and "Best of Show Overall" and sold work from the show which in turn helps fund this website.
I'll post pix of both pieces as they progress.
Positive and negative blog reviews of the show "Something from Nothing..."
Here's a couple of blog reviews of the show at the Canton Musem of Art in Canton, OH. I'm happy to see people write about the show and both mentioning my work. I'm also happy that there are two different opinions of the show both positive and negative even thought, there's nothing specifically negative about my work.
This show occupies a varied landscape of conceptual approaches from playful to profound, and a considerably broad terrain between the two. Daniel Horne’s “King and Queen” presents the life-size royal couple of welded scrap steel as whimsical, kinetic skeletons who invite viewers to gently push various parts of their anatomies and enjoy their moving parts.% Kyle Fokken’s mixed media “Uptet (Babylon Gunship)” and its more “modern” counterpart, “Ship of Fools,” are both solidly constructed, fascinating war machines in miniature. “Uptet” looks like a creature from a science fiction story, and would be a downright hilarious apparition were it not for its clearly deadly function.%
Nonetheless, both works are riveting in every sense of the word.
Snarky Art by Judi Krew
"I look for purpose and inspiration in pieces as well. A tin can is a logical steamship funnel and constructions like “Ship of Fools” can hold the attention of a child for quite a while, picking out various objects whose purposes were well thought out."
SOMETHING FROM NOTHING -Contemporary Recycled Sculpture from America's Rust Belt
My first museum show!
Two of my pieces "Ship of Fools" and "Uptet (Babylon Gunship") are both being shown at the Canton Museum of Art this winter. The dates of the show are November 27th, 2009 - March 7th, 2010. If you are in the area, check it out!
My pieces will also be featured in " About Magazine" and you can also see an image of one of my pieces on the museum's website. Here's the link to the page which can also be found on the "LINKS" tab on my website.
My first Blue Ribbon!
Yes, I actually won my first blue ribbon for my sculpture "Ship of Fools" at the Minnesota Sculpture Society's "Fall for Sculpture" Show at the Bloomington Art Center.
I've won awards in the past for First Place and Best of Show, but have never actually gotten a physical ribbon for it.
So there ya have it.
Check out the piece in the portfolio section and see what it looked like when I started.
Also, I received a "People's Choice" award at this show as well. Two firsts happening at the same time. Hopefully this is a trend.
Launching of new website
Finally, a new website is here!
Check for new larger work as well as some new smaller work.