Richard Downs
Getting Ready

Here are 2 new pieces from my “Getting Ready” series. This work continues my revisionist stories built around my favorite stylistic times in history. I love ancient Mythology. It is fantastic, scary, absurd and ridiculous yet ancient cultures believed in these tales and even today people still believe. 


These are going up to Seattle to Frederick Holmes and Company to a group show where my work has found a supportive audience. 

Icarus in the house of Daedalus | 3 Plate Monotype | 19x23.5” image area 23x28” sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2015
A Night out in Crete | 3 Plate Monotype | 19x23.5” image area 23x28” sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2015
The Gorgon Sisters Coiffing for Perseus | 3 Plate Monotype | 19x23.5” image area 23x28” sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2015
“Icarus Wondering”, Maquette in cardboard and hot glue (sprayed to look like steel) to make sure all of the shapes would fit together. Going to steel fabrication. 20 x 11 x 14 inches
All images | Richard Downs © 2015 
Hunter Museum
Couple #303 | Monotype | 5”x7” image area 8.5x10” sheet size | Oil on Japanese Paper | 2015

Less is More has never been the case for me until recent. The Hunter Museum looked at galleries in Austin, New York, Atlanta and Nashville to present a variety of art for their 2015 auction. TEW Galleries in Atlanta provided this piece. It is a small and understated piece but it represents what I try to bring to my work. 

Man No. 312
Richard Downs, Man No. 312 (anatomical sculpture series), Steel, 25 x 11 x 12 inches, Japanese Patina, 2015



Back in 1981 I took my first art history course and fell in love with the Modern Art movement. Around the same time Robert Hughes', “The Shock of the New” was broadcast on PBS. Every week I could not wait to tune in. Talk about inspired...Vladimir Tatlin’s, “Monument to the Third International” (1919–20) really stood out to me at that time. My fascination with his piece, the questions I asked, the thoughts he inspired, really made a huge impact upon my work. 



Richard Downs, Man No. 312 (anatomical sculpture series), Steel, 25 x 11 x 12 inches, Japanese Patina, 2015
Tatlin’s Tower, or the project for the Monument to the Third International (1919–20), was a design for a grand monumental building by the Russian artist and architect Vladimir Tatlin, that was never built. It was planned to be erected in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, as the headquarters and monument of the Comintern (the third international).
The Family in Bronze Pt 1
I am no wood worker but I have enough skills in cutting mats, making art and working with tools to figure the model out. I bought a Dremel Tool and I never thought much about them but it is a beast of a tool and I am now using it's tiny steel cut off wheel to cut steel on another project.

You can never predict what comes your way as an artist and here is one of those happy surprises. After investing 10 weeks and several weeks of 3 other fabricators I finished a large private commission called “The Family”. I had no idea that I would be revisiting a piece that had consumed so much of my time and energy. What was a 9’ sculpture has been commissioned in a small edition in bronze and at 15”. I said yes of course to the commission without any idea of how or what was involved in casting the piece. My first foundry choice was in Berkeley CA but after some conversations I was told that this piece would be as difficult and close to as much work as making the 9’ version. This was information that I didn’t think was necessary for me to hear and I decided at that point that they were not all that interested in working with me. 


After more looking around I have decided to work with Frostad Atelier in Sacramento which is an amazing foundry that was up to now located at the retired McClellan Airforce Base but has moved out and relocated to a new building the size of another aircraft hanger and they will be pouring metal in a month. This is just enough time for them to make the urethane molds from my wood maquette and get the wax ready for the edition. 


It is really inspiring to be working toward bronze on this little sculpture. What draws me and I am sure other artists to bronze is that it was mankind’s first casting material used to make objects of importance and longevity. Before casting there was stone and that is why it was called the stone age. I like thinking about artisans of the past and how they didn’t even know that their efforts would become future study and that their work would be placed into their cultural history.  So much of our history is connected to artisan materials or what we call today art supplies because when it is all said and done,,,       what would you keep, a hand made art object or the famiies tax ledger? Another bit of trivia that the foundry pointed out to me was that the only difference from modern casting and the ancient method was that today we have gas. Took a few minutes to absorb how cool that is but I would like to add that we also have power tools but back in the day they had an endless supply of labor to pound, beat and polish materials into form.  


I also like to think about my life and how it would have been lived in an early time with all of my artist friends around in a great bazaar hawking our wares while pounding urns or painting mosaic portraits and yakking on and complaining or being envious about so an so’s latest commission, some things I am sure will never change as an artist. 


Here is "The Family" at 15” made from hobby 1/4" birch plywood and 3/16" basswood. Every part has been designed as an individual unit to eventually have a rubber flat mold made from it’s shape or if it is a 3D unit it will have a rubber 2 sided mold made from the wooden form. The smallest shape that I could go was 3/16” and still be able to push the bronze through the cavities of the ceramic shell. 


The guy from Berkeley was correct in some ways, the wooden sculpture took way more time than I would have imagined and what was so ironic is that it had the same pitfalls in design and challenges in fabrication that the 9’ version had. This model is now at the foundry where mold makers will create urethane molds of all of the components. In a few weeks I will receive every form in wax that I will then do some minor scraping of details. 

The Family | Birch Plywood and Basswood | 15"Tx11"Wx8"D | Fine facial details and others will be created in the wax.
The Family | Birch Plywood and Basswood | 15"Tx11"Wx8"D
The Family | Birch Plywood and Basswood | 15"Tx11"Wx8"D
Richard Downs | The Family | Plasma Cut & Welded Steel | 108" x 58” x 48” | July 2015
All images | Richard Downs © 2015 
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