By Hayley Thomas
Topanga artist Rick Davis isn’t content that his art be simply seen. He wants the viewer to embark on a physical journey through gears and levers. In the spirit of interactive, kinetic art, Studios on the Park will host a reception for “Cranked Up,” featuring Davis and fellow artist Burl Vreeland within the Studios Atrium on Saturday, July 5. The free opening—which coincides with the monthly Art After Dark event—will include wine, appetizers and live music. The bold artwork will hang until July 27.
Davis said his self-proclaimed “crankers” combine three elements: Mechanical ingenuity, attention-grabbing action and fun.
“I have always been fascinated with how things work mechanically’ gears and levers that push and move things. Making crankers has allowed me to use what engineering skills I have,” Davis said. “I have noticed that it is the small movements of faces, fingers, and eyes that attract attention, and give insight to the subject. These movements tell us whether there is happiness or sadness, seriousness or silliness. When I make crankers, I use this idea.”
Davis said he always attempts to enjoy himself when it comes to making art.
“I hope to convey my joy in building these pieces. The ideas can range from serious to silly and anywhere in-between but always offer a little to think about,” he said. “All the pieces are powered by the viewer by means of a small crank, making the viewer part of the action. Fun is the key word’ humor is part of life, too.”
Davis’ work, “The Plate Spinner,” is reminiscent of a carnival trick. A “performer” balances plates atop a pole.
“I have four plates spinning and a figure of a man behind the plates, dressed in a suit and a tie. He’s got clown shoes and a clown hat on,” Davis said. “When you turn the crank, all the plates spin, and he slides back and forth as if to keep them spinning.”
Davis said he made the connection to Paso Robles thanks to his daughter, who resides in San Luis Obispo. The Studios on the Park show is a first for the artist. Fellow artist Burl Vreeland, a 13-year painting veteran, lives in San Luis Obispo. Although Vreeland works more two dimensionally, Davis said the pair share much in common.
“Burl and I share a similar sense of humor. It’s a wink and a nod,” Davis said. “Art can be so serious. This is art that you can ‘get,’ because you can touch it and make it work.”
Vreeland works on his paintings all the way up to the last second before they are revealed to the public.
“The works I produce is out of necessity to keep painting,” Vreeland said. “The ‘Crankers’ show features a lot of my dimensional work with wood, spray-paint, stencils and acrylic. Some are two years and some are two days old… the finished product is never done until it’s hanging on the gallery wall.”
Studios on the Park Program Director Sasha Irving said the show is a colorful and offbeat tribute to what you can do with an action-packed imagination.
“Together, Davis’ handcrafted ‘crankers’ and Vreeland’s vivid paintings create an edgy and humorous celebration of summer,” Irving said.