FLEXTIME: DAVID KATZ
319 VAUGHAN STREET
PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE
IN COLLABORATION WITH THE MUSEUM OF ART OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
By Linda Chestney
As we mature in life, we bump up against the certainty of change, growth, life’s fragility and inevitable finality. With time, we loosen our grip on idealism, perfection, control … because we have no choice. It’s a good thing, but something most of us would prefer to sidestep, but life does not work out that way.
Sculptor and ceramicist David Katz, whose current installation graces the gallery at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, understands this concept all too well, and it seeps into the essence of his works. The exhibition, “Flextime: David Katz,” is an installation curated by Kristina Durocher, director of the Museum of Art of the University of New Hampshire, as a collaborative effort with 3S Artspace in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The exhibition exploits the properties of wet clay to create complex, web-like installations that push and pull against architectural elements, constructed spaces and scaffolding. As the clay dries, cracks develop, exposing the fragile nature of the structural systems.
The works are centered around found wooden chairs — some from Craigslist purchases, some from a burned-out attic found abandoned beside a melted television, all with a story. For Katz, the stories behind the chairs embrace his metaphor of life’s passages and losses. He loves working with furniture with a history — even if it is only imagined.
The initial inspiration for his work with furniture came from three wooden, intricately carved, tiered plant stands that belonged to his grandparents. Family heirlooms he inherited, they occupied the corner of his studio and over time became objects of fascination. He valued the history they represented, which only escalated upon losing his grandparents. The plant stands came to symbolize the collective memory of family and the lives they represent. The desire to preserve these things — things of little value to others and easily dis- carded — were of great worth to Katz.