Meanwhile, A Few Doors Down...
I confess . . . I’ve been looking forward to Chad Campbell’s new City Gallery show for months. Chad’s work has always been one of our family favorites . . . his pieces make us stop and think in a different way and we have a nice little collection of “Chad Campbells” at our house. His new show, “Meanwhile, a Few Doors Down...” branches into a completely different artistic direction from his previous work. “I had to teach myself new things . . . and change is hard. I felt like I was in school again,” he says. Chad’s new work features three dimensional “homes,” built from discards, “things that have outlived their usefulness” -- wooden pallets, the ends of cable reels, scraps of building materials -- and feature Chad’s signature “wire men” . . . working on their roofs, walking their dogs, and greeting their neighbors. They reflect Chad’s view of this King Park neighborhood, where he lives and works, and the many changes it’s going through. So many old homes are being rehabbed, “taking the old and covering it with new.” When Chad moved to this neighborhood from a small town, the city was a little overwhelming. “There were so many people, different kinds of people who were a little scary until I knew their stories . . . you find out that nobody’s who you think they are.” Those people are represented in the “wire men.”
Chad began making the wire men about 12 years ago. His son had just been born, and he’d been laid off from his construction job for the winter. “I had this idea in my head for awhile. When I finally made one, it looked just like these.” For years he made the men out of copper wire. “This was before we went to war,” he says, when copper was considered trash, leftover from construction sites. “I had 400 pounds of copper wire at one time . . . it’s lasted 12-13 years. But copper isn’t trash anymore, so it’s time to move on to something else.” The men are now made out of brightly colored old telephone wires. “Copper,” Chad says, “almost became too easy” after working with it for so long. “It was time to step up my game, do something different.”
Chad is a proficient wrestler and former wrestling coach, and wrestling informs his work in many ways. He represents the body and its movement -- “a slight move of the hips can change everything” -- in an inspired way . . . like his “people” have real muscles and were captured just as they were swinging the hammer or leaning over the balcony. Creating art, for Chad, is also a lot like wrestling. “You have to shut down your head, use your instinct, let it flow.” He encouraged me to look at art that same way . . . not overthinking it, trying to figure out what it means, but just letting myself feel it and respond to it.
Take a break from the music next Saturday (12 great bands at IMAF -- June 14!) and stop in the City Gallery for a new view of this neighborhood.