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Friday, June 16, 2017

Screw Art

Screwing around, getting a "feel" for his portrait
subjects--the art of Andrew Myers.
Postmodern art has, as one of its most basic principles, that it must be "new." That's a very tough criteria. Some have equated it to creativity, though the validity of such an equation has a great deal to do with your working definition of the two words. Maybe they shouldn't be, but both words are relative--new, newer, and newest. Creativity is easier to justify in that regard since, in practice, creativity suggests an evolution of one innovation built upon another--a key element in Modern Art. With Postmodern art, something isn't really "new" if there also exists a similar object or concept that is "newer." And both items fall by the wayside in the face of the "newest" similar concept. But if two objects are similar, doesn't that suggest creative evolution rather than true "newness?"
A Postmodern self-portrait. The art of Andrew Myers.
One way Postmodern artists have had some success in the pursuit of newness is by employing previously unexplored media. Carving sculpture from a block of salt is probably a new idea. Leaving it outside for the rain and snow to help shape what the artist has created is a newer idea. Adding various dyes at intervals along the way would make it the newest thing. Trying the same techniques with cotton balls...not so much. Creating low-relief sculpture by pounding nails in a slab of would might involve creativity but it certainly would be nothing new. Painting an image on the heads of the nails would be a newer, more creative endeavor. Switching to phillips screws, then painting the heads to form a portrait so a blind man can feel his own image...that would qualify as the newest thing, certainly in portraiture, and quite possibly the whole realm of Postmodern art. That's the art of the Californian screw-painter, Andrew Myers.

Question: "What type of art do you do?"
Andrew: "I paint screws."
Even though he lives today in all-American Laguna Beach, California, the work of Andrew Myers has been influenced as much from his birth heritage in Germany and the Italian sculpture of Michelangelo and Bernini, as by southern Californian culture. Born in Braunshweig, (central) Germany, and raised in Ciudad Real, (south-central) Spain, about 1989, he enrolled in the Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) in 1999 where he majored in painting and sculpture. After about two and a half years, Myers began his professional career, his first works being traditional (more or less) cast bronze--nothing new, but with a certain creative flair causing him to stand apart from his peers.

Portrait of John, Andrew Myers
--as real as a phillips screw will allow.
Myers' Postmodern portraits blend modern materials with classical figurative techniques featuring universal subject matter unifying these three characteristics. The result is innovative works which have captivated viewers nationwide. Art lovers marvel at his stunningly realistic portraits of people created with ordinary four-inch drywall screws. Seen straight-on, the screws create the effect of a pointillist painting. But when viewed from other angles, Myer’s pieces reveal their sculptural side. His latest work deviates from his usual portraits, and focusing instead on man-made objects (below and at bottom).

A portrait of a shirt and that of a breeze. Discarded pages from phonebooks provide the background for most of Myers works.
Andrew first came up with the idea for the screw portraits around 2004. He'd kicked around the idea for years before deciding one day to make a grid and start putting screws in it. Little did he realize how much work it was going to be. His first screw portrait began with drilling 10,000 holes in a 4 x 4 foot panel of ¾-inch plywood, which he covered with pages from a telephone book. The outlines of the portrait he drew to create in relief. After that, he affixed 10,000 screws into the panel, carefully screwing each one in only as far as it needed to go to create a smooth contour when viewed from a distance.

Once all the screws were in place, Andrew painted the top of each one to add color and depth to his subject. Thus, his screw portraits become three-dimensional pointillism with each screw almost touching the one beside it, creating an image out of thousands of tiny raised dots. Myers recalls sometime later watching a blind man experience his work for the first time. As the man ran his hands over a large three-dimensional portrait his blank expression suddenly transformed into a warm smile. He could feel what others could only see. That man was George Wurtzel. The creation of his portrait, given him by Myers, can be seen below along with a video produced of its making.

Helping a blind man "see."

On a Short Leash, Andrew Myers


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