Brent Bukowski’s acreage near Kaslo has become something of a local dumping ground for old appliances, broken windows, rusted metal and other unwanted materials.
His trash heap grows next to a rustic outbuilding that serves as his art studio, where he recycles the junk into pieces of his intricate sculptures. The whole operation it kept out of sight of neighbours by a tall wooden fence that Bukowski put up when he realized he was never going organize the mess.
“There are two types of artists,” Bukowski jokes. “Those who put their time into organizing their studio, and those who put their time into their art.”
A self-taught artist, Bukowski’s sculptures have toured galleries across the country. A couple years back he was commissioned by the City of Nelson to create the railing on the Baker Street bridge at the entrance to Railtown.
This weekend he has two exhibits opening in the Kootenay — a solo show called Blunt Force Illumination opening Saturday at Langham Gallery in Kaslo, and a group show called Found: The Art of Re-Use opening tonight at Touchstones Nelson.
Sharing the Gallery A exhibit at Touchstones with him are Shyra De Souza (Calgary), Mark Mizgala (Vancouver) and brothers Cedric and Nathan Bomford (Winnipeg and Vancouver Island, respectively), all of whom make use of re-used or recycled material in their work.
For his part, Bukowski has mounted on the gallery wall a 33-foot strip of perforated metal leftover from the Railtown bridge and then attached 16 circular sculptures made entirely of other castoffs from the same project. The frames of each sculpture are the outside rings on vehicle brake rotors, fashioned to hold layers of glass and other metal parts.
“I don’t like to waste anything,” Bukowski says. “The whole time I was working on the bridge, I was thinking about what I could do with the left over materials.”
He originally made 26 of the round sculptures, but 10 sold after being on exhibit at a gallery in Comox, BC last summer. He has hundreds more rotor frames that he could eventually turn into more pieces for this series, but currently he’s focused on building on the exhibit showing in Kaslo.
Blunt Force Illumination is a collection of six, 20-sided polyhedron, also made from recycled metal and glass. They are the optimistic conclusion of a three-part, environmental-themed series and will eventually grow to be a floor-to-ceiling light installation that he hopes to tour across the county in 2016.
Each piece represents the three pillar approach to sustainability (balancing environmental, social and economic demands). At Langham gallery they’re displayed on pedestals and lit from within.
Coincidentally his partner Arin Fay, also an accomplished artist, recently took over as curator at Langham Gallery and Bukowski’s is the first show she’s overseeing in her new role (she had nothing to do with booking him, though, that was done more than a year ago by the previous curator).
The opening reception for Found: The Art of Re-Use goes Friday, February 7 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Blunt Force Illumination opens Saturday, February 8, also from 7 to 9 p.m.