May 2009: Michael Southern & Mike Sur

Michael Southern’s paintings incorporate his lifelong fascination with landscape with his more recent investigation of the figure. This broad narrative is presented in a format of polytychs. Richly painted images, resembling old masters, are oftentimes positioned next to black and white etchings of landscapes, nudes or insects. He’s taken a wood panel and divided it into a quilt-like matrix. Each area of the panel is then painted with different vignettes of landscapes and figures. Etchings are also collaged onto these panels suggesting a narrative reminiscent of a graphic novel or an altarpiece. These divisions are augmented with balsa wood strips to visually iterate the craft element which is a vital component to his work

Mike Sur journey as a metal sculptor began with a fascination for making wonderfully tactile and peculiar objects.  Over the past decade it has matured into an intimate relationship between my hands and the material.  I use sculpture as a tool for engaging the world around me.  I work to constantly refine the process of distilling my life experiences and relationships into objects both large and small. 
My focus has been to hone in on the corners of every day life, the details and textures lost to the periphery amongst the buzz of urban living.  I bring these elements together with a deeply rooted love and appreciation for the natural world and my fellow humans, and then use them to influence line, texture and composition.  Smaller works are studies of this process and the breeding grounds for new ideas.  
When I create a series of pieces each one builds on the last, opening new avenues of seeing.  My large scale works take the knowledge gained from the smaller pieces and are constructed with the intent to slow the observer down and engage them visually and tactilely with the work. This dialogue is very personal and individual as each person brings their own history and subtle relationship with shape and texture to the meeting.  The sculptures are meant to ignite a sense of curiosity and wonder.  
My goal is to set an exuberant and hopeful tone, harnessing the energy of the given location and context. I work meticulously towards refining my skills, always paying close attention to the ways subtle line and texture evoke feeling and thought.  Aggressively pursuing new and challenging projects not only pushes the limits of my skills and studio, but also of my perspective.  It is with this practice and persistence I compose new sculpture and design thoughtful objects.