Tuesday, November 24, 2009

two late 70's works by tom fender...



i recently discovered the work of tom fender who had a studio in los angeles in the 1970's. fender was a fiber artist, or at least an artist who seems to have showed mostly in fiber and craft related exhibitions throughout the 1970's. he received an mfa from ucla in 1975.

i've been looking at a lot of los angeles area artists like fender, who were creating works that existed within this fertile time for craft. fender was part of this scene, as he participated in at least one of the big pasadena museum's "california design" shows, and was part of a fiber exhibition in 1979 at ucla's wight gallery.

i have only ever seen the two works pictured above, but certainly both seem to converse more with contemporary sculpture than quilting or tapestry.

the color images of the untitled piece from 1977, remind me a bit of the visual language of eva hesse, the material presence of lucas samaras, and for some ridiculous reason i keep thinking of robert morris. it's tiny scale also reminds me a bit of tuttle, in how perfect it feels in its awkward presence.

the black and white image is of a piece from 1978-79, called "city packages series", and seems to speak more in relation to sculpture in terms of the materials moving to cement, steel and copper. it reminds me a bit of early smithson work, and in some ways a relationship towards minimalism with the individual units, less so of course in their arrangement, and a support that looks like a bit like a sculpture on its own, by gego.

samaras's sculptural work has been on my mind a lot lately, and when i visited the palm springs museum on sunday, the highlight of my visit (other than seeing one of my own paintings facing a stunning karl benjamin!), was a wonderful "chair" piece by samaras, that was made of various wires and colored thread, paper, etc. the more of this work by samaras i see, the more i love how absolutely personal his aesthetic is, and how completely uncanny the objects feel when you are standing in front of them. they are a bit confrontational in how they feel absolutely purposeful and purposeless at the same time, and their quiet is tempered by a strange feeling that he has hidden a razor blade in every apple. they also feel on the verge of collapse.

fender's works don't have as much darkness or provocation, but within the two works above, i find an aesthetic that seems wonderfully hovering in a land of "between", and totally exploratory. even though i came up with a loose string of references in relation to both works, fender seems to be working within his own territory; particularly when making decisions in these works, such as the elaborate sculptural hanging system and the materials used in the "city packages series", and the visibility of the japanese grapefruit dividers that act as an armature for the woven fiber. one decision feels formal and constructivist, the other bordering on surrealist tendencies. the private collision of such things seems fertile, particularly towards a formal resolve, and allowing the underlying emotional quality to remain marvelously quivering, so that one can go inside the works, and continually find new ways through them, leaving intellectual or conceptual resolve in a state of flux, and perhaps just out of reach.

i'm hoping at some point, to uncover more of fender's work. if anyone has any more info, comments are welcome.

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Blogger shirine nour said...

it's a great pleasure for me to read your blog-notes.
thank you!

1:46 PM  
Blogger ArtSparker said...

The lower piece is wonderful organic/subversive, and the upper piece suggests techtonic plates in movement.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look in the book California Design '76. There is a work by him titled November Wall

11:44 AM  

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