Abstract Art on the Brain
News of Delaware County (PA) – Wednesday, November 17, 2004. Author: Joe McAllister, CORRESPONDENT
He sees potential in everything and everything moves him. This guy’s a ball of artistic expressionistic energy, like Picasso on mescaline or Salvador Dali pumped up on Red Bull.
The eclectic artistic imagery begins the moment you enter his 100-year-old Victorian twin-home in Media. The centurion charm of the place meshes well with Deane ‘s multi-media display of artwork – from oil paintings, bronze sculptors, clay ceramics and coconut carvings (the Acme variety) to the old-fashioned wrap-around porch with swinging love seat, built-in solid oak cabinetry and flaming red walls of his studio. Somehow it all works.
“This is somewhere between a real house and the crazy expressionism of my intensity,” says Deane , 40, a full-time artist. “When I work, I sit in a chair, put my feet up and get really comfortable. I create while watching TV or just breathing. I do it all the time.”
When he talks, you sense his brain is split in two: half in conversation, the other half in artistic thought. Always looking for the next cool idea, his muse never rests.
He eats, spits and sleeps art. First thing when he opens his eyes in the morning, he’s got abstract on the brain. (The eye is an integral focal point of some of his Escherian-type photographs. Did I mention? He photographs, too.)
This Delaware County born and bred artist not only embraces his roots, he wallows in them. What Bob Deane does best is gets down and dirty in the closest thing to primordial ooze the 21st century man has today – creek mud. Not just any mud but local dirt.
Several times a year he can be spotted behind a car lot in Aston scooping handfuls of clay from the meandering Ridley Creek bed. “To the owners of the car lot, I’m the crazy guy who comes over once in a while to collect mud,” says Deane , who switched his major from business to art at Bloomsburg University after just one pottery class. And from this soupy mess of minerals, sand and silt, comes pottery: functional in form, artistic in nature and aesthetically stimulating.
Like a grown-up version of Charlie Brown’s pals, the turbid Pigpen combined with the skillful precociousness of Linus, Deane has learned how to play at his craft. “I played up and down Ridley Creek my entire childhood. I was always dirty, and I just loved it,” he says.
“My art is the raw intersection of play in pure form with creative expressionism. With clay (mud) you can have all of it. You can’t play in paint. It’s toxic.”
He does dabble in oil painting and painting over photographs, which he calls “paint-by-numbers,” but refuses to label himself. “I don’t think of myself as a painter, sculptor or potter. I’m just an artist,” he says. “Any medium that presents itself to me, I’m going to find a way to get my vision out.”
But clay is clearly his favorite plaything. “The metamorphosis of clay is unbelievable – how mud, a ubiquitous thing ends up as a fine glass or a clay fired structure,” he says of the final products, which line two full rooms of his home. His pottery has been described as “earthy, organic, with a whole feeling to it.”
Deane passes his passion for his tactile art form to his students at the Wallingford Art Center where he teaches classes in pottery and occasionally the fine art of tie-dying. You got to believe it must be like a day at the playground for these kids.
“(The tie-dyed shirts) look like some of my paintings so I can wear it and live in it as opposed to putting it on a wall,” says Deane . “When I was young, I wasn’t told very much what not to do.”
As a result of his inner child running wild, this free-spirited artist is out of the box, beyond the lines and into a medium of creation that few modern potters venture into. African tribes and Southwest American Pueblo Indians are known for using indigenous materials for their craft. But in this region, Deane remains an anomaly.
“Many potters ask me where I buy my clay because of the effect I get from it. I tell them I dig my own,” says Deane , who keeps buckets of his “magic mud” stocked in his garage.
“I like the finish and color I get from local clay .”
Deane cites M.C. Escher, the famous 20th century graphic artist noted for his “impossible” renderings like “Ascending and Descending” and Polish mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, an advocate of fractal geometry and how it occurs in nature, as his major influences. The shape and texture of his pieces reflect the illusionary effects and dazzling symmetry of these two great thinkers.
He explains one of his favorite pieces. “The pod piece was influenced by the movie “Alien,” he says of a scaly, earth-yellow vase-like creation that resembles something erotic and otherworldly. “It’s my idea of contained energy – staying together then exploding.”
Deane has also designs earthen cookware with ergonomics in mind. His inner-lipped French Onion soup bowl and ridged clay plates keep food from spilling and supply a captive boundary for wandering vegetables. “I like it that I make things that somebody else uses, eats out of and interacts with.”
This dedicated artisan is taking his act on the road with a series of arts and crafts shows coinciding with the upcoming holidays. He has a show running at the Hedgerow Theatre in Rose Tree over the next six weeks and a combined student/teacher pottery exhibit at the Tyme Gallery in Havertown opening this weekend.
He feels some of his students have progressed to the point where they could actually sell their works. “That’s one of the hardest things for an artist to do – to make the commercial leap,” says Deane , whose own works sell from under $10 to well over $1000.
Deane is hoping to capitalize on the holidays and remain a well-fed artist.
“There’s nothing wrong with malls and superstores,” he says. “With the work I create, it’s a chance to slow down, to feel the mug or bowl in your hands and to know it was made to make a connection from the artist to the person.”
If you go: To see or purchase Bob Deane ‘s pottery, attend the Community Arts Center 29th Annual Holiday Arts & Crafts Boutique, November 19- 21, 2007 and the Wallingford Potter’s Guild Sale, December 3-5. Both take place at the Community Arts Center, 414 Plush Mill Road, Wallingford, PA, 610-566-1713 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 610-566-1713 FREE end_of_the_skype_highlighting; www.communityartscenter.org.
Memo: Bob Deane thinks in tie-dyed swirls, chaotic psychedelic symmetry, and kinetic hydro-electric bursts.
Section: News; Record Number: 13382950. Copyright 2004, 2007, News of Delaware County (PA) – a Journal Register Company Property, All Rights Reserved.