Artscape nets identified flying objects for two public displays
July 17, 2015
People will look to the skies to see the two new Summit County public-art installations.
The works, Lenka Konopasek’s "Urban Tornado" and Tim Little’s "Fly Utah" are on display at the Summit County Library Kimball Junction Branch and Coalville City Hall, respectively.
The works are part of Artscape, a program created by the Summit County Public Art Advisory Board in which artists lease their sculptures for a year to be placed in the county’s rural communities.
Both works were originally created for and displayed in Salt Lake City’s "Flying Objects" public-art exhibit and are now part of the Summit County landscape.
The Park Record caught up with Konopasek and Little earlier this week to talk about their artwork.
Lenka Konopasek: Beautiful disasters
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Two things inspired "Urban Tornado," said Konopasek.
The first was the tornado that ripped through downtown Salt Lake City in 2000. The second inspiration came from images of various disasters, both natural and man-made.
"I was amazed at how beautiful those images could be," she said. "They are visually powerful and I was interested in the conflict between the beauty and the harshness of the destruction. I have been trying to take advantage of that juxtaposition of those two views in the same subject matter in both my painting and sculpture."
"Urban Tornado" was originally a paper-art piece that was created for ArtPrize, an arts festival in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
"I made it as a series of hanging-installation pieces and they were all indoor pieces that were sort of light-weight structures," she said. "When I applied for the ‘Flying Objects’ exhibit, I had to figure out how to take these light-weight installations and make it more permanent. So, I translated the paper into a more stable metal piece."
Konopasek learned about Summit County’s Artscape through an art-agency notification.
"I do a lot of public artwork and receive different calls for entries," she said. "It’s always nice to have a piece somewhere displayed publicly, because I think the percentage of people who actually go to an art museum or gallery is rather small. So, to have a piece in a public space exposes art to those who don’t frequently go to places that show art.
"I like that when people see a public artwork, it’s as if they are discovering it on their own, almost like an accidental encounter," Konopasek said. "It gives them a visual experience they may not expect."
The artist discovered art when she was child growing up in the Czech Republic.
"Even as a kid, I liked to make things with my hands," she said. "I was intrigued with how things come together. So, being creative is part of my personality. I enjoy making things."
For the first 15 years of her career, Konopasek focused on painting and did some printmaking and drawings.
"On the side, I would make some little sculpture, but not something that would be taken seriously," she said.
That began to change when Konopasek began sharing her thoughts with her husband, sculptor Cordell Thaylor.
"We would always talk about what we were doing and encouraged each other," Konopasek said. "For me, it is interesting and beneficial to go back and forth between the two-dimensional and three-dimensional. So, over time, the sculpture has become a natural extension of my work."
For more information about Lenka Konopasek, visit lenkakonopasek.com.
Tim Little: Upcycled beauty
Little is happy that "Fly Utah" has been installed at the Coalville City Hall.
"It’s exciting when anyone wants one of your pieces and get enjoyment out of them," Little said. "It’s great and rewarding when you see people get excited about something I do. I’m glad that it’s somewhere new."
After "Fly Utah" finished its run with "Flying Objects," Little installed it on his home’s roof in Riverton.
The piece, as with all of Little’s recent works, is created out of upcycled material.
"The plane’s body is a propane tank and the propeller was carved out of wood and mounted on a bicycle hub, so it will spin in a slight breeze," he said. "The little pilot is made from automotive junk and his body is made from a lawnmower muffler."
Before Little started upcycling material to make art, he was a woodcarver, a finish carpenter and jeweler.
"When I was a kid I liked to sculpt," he said. "I like putting things together and working with clay. And while I did like to draw, I really liked three-dimensional art and had that in the back of my head."
One day, 11 years ago, Little found a piece of wood that looked like a dragon.
"I took it home and took a two-week vacation to carve," he said. "A month later, I quit my job to do sculpture. I figured that if I didn’t do it then, I wouldn’t ever do it."
Little draws his artistic inspiration from the materials he welds together.
"I picked up a welder one day and started off with stick figures and goofy things like that," he said. "That all evolved into making animals."
A few years ago, Little made a giant crab out a 1950s Chevy truck hood.
"The hood itself looked like a crab shell," he said. "The legs were made out of 20 Harley Davidson motorcycle mufflers and the pinchers were made from motorcycle gas tanks."
Little’s works include horses that utilized pistons for the hooves and smaller crabs with claws made from tool-kit wrenches.
While he enjoys working with upcycled materials, Little does find it challenging.
"More often than not, I change direction in the middle of a piece I’m doing," he said, laughing. "I’ll have something that will give me an idea of what I want to do, but I won’t have all the material to finish the project at that point. So, I’ll dig and scrounge to see what other items will work the best on what I have in mind.
"I’ll have something in my head and think it will come together quickly, but then I struggle to find the right part," he said. "As soon as I weld what I have into place, I’ll find another piece that would’ve worked better. There’s nothing cut and dry when it comes to creativity."
For more information about Tim Little, visit Timlittleart.com..
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