by Greg Morell
The studio of Portsmouth artist Michael Stasiuk is a wonder world of creative imagination where obscure found objects are manipulated, jointed, glued and crafted into magical, animated, anthropomorphic spirits of fancy.
Working with very simple tools — a drill, a small band saw, a series of hand tools — his wizardry of inventive fabrication conjures a panoply of whimsical characters and kooky creatures. His work is lighthearted, clever, amusing and a visual delight to both art aficionados and young children. Stasiuk’s veritable carnival of characters spring to life from rummaged objects that he discovers at flea markets, garage sales, antique shops and Colorado roadsides. Wooden children’s shoe shapers from the 1800s, bowling pins, croquet mallets, pick-up sticks, old brushes, broken chairs and toy blocks are the detritus transformed by this modern Geppetto into his elfin effigies.
One of three sculptors featured in the Portsmouth Discovery Center’s “Seacoast Sculpture from Material to Masterwork” exhibition this summer, Stasiuk is joined by the figurative bronzes of Sumner Winebaum and Jane Kaufmann’s colorful ceramics. The show runs from July 7 to October1. The Discovery Center galleries are well-appointed, airy spaces on two levels; the Sculpture show is situated in the downstairs gallery and a companion show in the Balcony Gallery — “Sublime Mud!” — features work by over two dozen members of the New Hampshire Potters Guild.