About the Artists
Robert Hanlon makes furniture, paintings and assemblage from used, discarded fragments of quite various materials: architectural salvage, broken chairs, rusted iron tools, old door panels, tree stumps, rocks.
“I started trash picking as a child with my parents at the town dump. Mom stayed in the car because of rats and sent me to fetch old furniture and mirrors to fill our rambling 19th-century farmhouse.”
Later in life, when the landfills all closed, he found the stuff in dumpsters and on roadsides. The appeal was largely economy, but it was the beauty and the stories that kept him stockpiling things his entire life. “I don’t think it’s the same thing as hoarding,” he says, “but some might disagree.”
Old walls became tabletops, columns became bedposts, door panels layered with paint suggested paintings, but the little bits of wood and metal that accumulated in boxes took on a life of their own. Pareidolia, the inclination to see faces and figures where they are not, is the animating force.
“I’m mostly trying to throw stuff away,” he says. “But it seems to come alive in order to stop me. I don’t come with any ideas. I find them in the objects and their interactions. The assemblage that results is minimal, involving little or no cutting, joining or finishing. I want people to encounter these pieces as I found them.
“They dance on springs, twirl on fishing line, or just stare back at you. They all make me laugh. If they don’t, they go back in the box.”
Patricia Hanlon is a nonfiction writer and self-taught visual artist who finds both inspiration and challenges in the places she has lived and worked. Born in Los Angeles in 1954, she moved to Cape Ann in 1976. Subject matter for her paintings has ranged from the spillways and intake towers of the Hoover Dam to the waterways and islands of the Essex River Basin.
Patricia’s assemblage work emerged over many years, alongside traditional painting. It began with the Hanlons’ family business, Walker Creek Furniture. She spent a lot of time sanding painted surfaces with progressively finer grits of sandpaper. “I loved the resulting marble-smooth textures, the rich colors and the subtle pentimenti. I also loved the look and feel of the sandpaper itself, and began making collages with it.” She has adorned these sandpaper grids with shattered windshield glass, iridescent beach coal, wristwatch movements, marbles, and so on—items found at flea markets or by the side of the road or deep in the woods. She has also made collages by stuffing old cassette and CD cases with various soft materials: dryer lint, latex gloves and mineral pigments, and fabric remnants.
“A friend once said that artists are people with hyperactive eyeballs. I’m happy to report that it only intensifies with age.”
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