Support Yourself: Kent Latimer’s freestanding art

Here’s another week jam packed full of art activities, art campers. This one may not be on your radar but it’s on mine because the artist, Kent Latimer, is someone whose work I’ve been keeping track of for several years now and when he got in touch recently about a new body of work I knew I wanted to hear (and see) more.

Here’s a post of a studio visit I did with him in 2004. Recently Latimer’s work was in the exhibit Cut and Paste at Falling Cow Gallery (see Caitlin’s post).

Kent Latimer
Kent Latimer, Bellows and Drawers. 2006. Click to see it bigger. It’s a beautiful piece made from found objects balanced together perfectly — no fasteners. After seeing this grouping I can’t imaging these objects any other way.

Latimer is a gifted found object sculptor. And the new work, like the first body of work I saw two years ago, pays attention to its materials in every way possible, both the connotations and the subliminal messages. The new objects came together quickly, Latimer said, although that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been thinking about the materials and playing with them for a long time before they clicked and felt right and actually worked mechanically.

Kent Latimer
Extensions. OK so he’s got hair clip fasteners here. But really, what sculptor uses hair clips?

All the raw materials for Latimer’s works are lost and found objects. Many of the objects come into his hands through the serendipity of being in the right place at the right time. Occasionally he buys an object and he told me that the neighborhood sidewalk sales have been good for him. He doesn’t buy things at thrift stores. Friends who know him well and understand his art-making often pick things up off the street for him. Several of the works in this show are made with “friend-given objects.”

Latimer, who showed work at Spector Gallery a while back has a nice story at artjaw about finding a green plastic smiling Buddha and how the piece he made with the Buddha was sold.

Kent Latimer
Easy Access, Grate Light. Picking up the language of the condo developer in the title, this piece reminds me of a hard hat worker guy going to work with his lunch pail.

The show of new work, opening Friday, Oct. 20 with a reception from 6-9 pm, is in a nice gallery space carved out of the artist’s Walnut St. loft apartment. There’s nice light in the space and it’s a good showroom for the art. The new works I saw are full of Latimer’s trademark visual verbal puns. My favorite is Bellows and Drawers (top image), with the top item scavenged from Quaker Photo (do we think it was part of an old enlarger perhaps?) and the bottom, some miscellaneous industrial-strength metal file drawers.

All materials in Latimer’s land come with a story. He’s a picky scavenger and not all found materials rate. But when they do, they find their way into a new story as the artist pushes them to new meaning in his works.

Kent Latimer
B-B-B Black Beauty. Can you believe someone left this bag and bowling ball on the streets of Philadelphia? Latimer’s partner Albo Jeavons spotted the item on the street, told Latimer where he’d seen it and Latimer went to check it out. It’s A+ material if you ask me.

There’s a found bowling ball and bag piece; a Peeps piece; a magnet and darts piece; a hair curler piece; a plastic punchbowl piece and a forlorn red metal pole piece featuring a red emergency telephone from New York City.

Kent Latimer, himself
Latimer standing next to Peeps Support, a work made from a soft Peeps Easter basket found by a friend and four pink table legs given to him by someone whose house he was painting.

Latimer lives with his objects and often it takes a long time for the puzzling objects to fit together just so. He works his materials this way and that, trying everything that intuitively (and mechanically) makes sense. This is an artist who does not know from physics or mechanics but he can feel when the weight is distributed properly and the piece will hold its own. And when they fit together perfectly they have the look of the inevitable — like an old married couple that starts to look alike.

Kent Latimer
North and South. The militaristic overtones here (Civil War, missiles) is pretty uncanny. Latimer pointed out how the oval void in the middle is a perfect head shape.

Kent Latimer: Support Yourself
New self-supporting found-object sculpture
Oct. 20-Nov. 17 by appointment 215.284.0705
Opening reception Friday, Oct. 20, 6-9 pm