Kimball Art Center examines the ‘Art of the Timepiece’ |

Kimball Art Center examines the ‘Art of the Timepiece’

Futuristic clocks are some of the images that are on display at the Kimball Art Center's new exhibit "Art of the TimePiece." (Photo by Karol Renau)

"If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do

Is to save every day ’til eternity passes away. Just to spend them with you "

Jim Croce, 1972

Throughout the ages, the human race has been fascinated with the enigma time.

Prehistoric evidence that surrounds landmarks such as Stonehenge and the Pyramids have puzzled and entertained historians, philosophers and educators for centuries.

Author H.G. Wells’ "The Time Machine," BBC TV’s "Dr. Who," Robert Zemeckis’s ’80s blockbuster film franchise "Back to the Future" and the whole Steampunk movement are just a few examples of how pop culture has explored the concept of time.

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The Kimball Art Center will take a closer look at time with "Art of the Timepiece," which will run through April 16.

The exhibit is so vast that it will spread through all three KAC galleries — the Main, Garage and Badami, said Anne Brahic, exhibitions director for the Kimball Art Center.

"The Main Gallery will be feature a fairly formidable collection of clocks and watches we’re getting on loan from Karol Renau, an engineer based in Los Angeles, Calif.," Brahic told The Park Record. "He is loaning us nearly 200 pocket watches, watches and clocks that date back to the mid-1700s."

"But time keeps flowing like a river to the sea "

Alan Parsons Project, 1980

Renau, who has a second home in Deer Valley, is also an amateur photographer and some of his photographs will be on display in the Garage Gallery.

"He’s taken a number of photographs through a microscope of the inside gears and workings of some of his watches and clocks," Brahic said. "They are what we call the amazing hidden art that is inside of these watches."

Some of the intricate artwork includes micro-engravings on the gears that aren’t visible to the naked eye.

"Even so, the detail of these pieces is phenomenal," Brahic said. "There is one that shows a ship with a mast and crows nest with someone standing in it, and another features a hunting scene. And there are some that include engraved dedications for birthdays and such.

"There are some scenes that are enamel paintings, and those tend to be more in the face of the watch," she said. "These are things that people wouldn’t have discovered unless they popped off the back of their pocket watches."

Renau became fascinated with watches while unwinding one night after a long day at work.

"I obtained my first pocket watch which was broken and I wanted to see if I can repair it," he said. "Very carefully I took it apart piece by piece going very late into the night. I was able to figure out the problem and with much excitement put it all back together again."

One night, he discovered the artwork.

"As my collection grew so did my interest in the more expensive and rare watches," he said. "Upon opening each watch from the back, I was amazed how much tiny and intricate hidden art was inside each one. Most that you had to have a magnifying glass to see. It just seemed like each watchmaker wanted to be more elaborate with this hidden art than the one prior."

"Someone asked me what the time is

I don’t know

Only know I gotta go, now "

Joe Jackson, 1979

The exhibit in the Badami Gallery will feature an interactive children’s display that will teach about time zones around the world.

"We’ll also show jewelry that is made out of local clock parts by local artist Stacey Sherr," Brahic said. "The space will also feature videos that will include watch and gear movements and clips from various movies that refer to watches, time and clocks.

"Some of the snippets will be culled from informational films that examine the art and sciences of watches and keeping time," she said.

Watches, gears, jewelry and videos aren’t the only items that are part of the exhibit.

"We’ve also got everything from the retro clocks from the Space Age to the Atmos clocks by Jaeger-LeCoultre, who is a Swiss watchmaker," Brahic said. "These are the clocks don’t ever need a battery nor do they need to be wound. They will continue to function for centuries and remain accurate as long as there are minuscule shifts in the atmospheric pressure."

The idea for "Art of the Timepiece" stemmed from a meeting Kimball Art Center Executive Director Robin Marrouche had with Renau.

"Karol is a supporter of the Kimball Art Center and Robin saw his collection," Brahic said. "She pitched an idea to myself and the exhibition committee of having this here."

The oldest item is a watch that was built in the 1750s, and the whole exhibit only touches the surface of Renau’s collection.

"He has amassed thousands of these items, and if he’s loaning us 200 of them, who knows how many he has," Brahic said.

"Art of the Timepiece," which is culled from the collection of Karol Renau, will be on display at the Kimball Art Center, 638 Park Ave., through April 16. Admission is free. For more information, call 435-649-8882 or visit