The accidental artist

Eric Boyer: Creating a 'Garden of Delight' out of wire mesh

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BRATTLEBORO — Artist Eric Boyer has always been able to see shapes in things. There is a knack to recognizing something that is already there. His love for scavenging things and making them into something turned out to be a skill set that led to more than he ever imagined. His exhibit "Garden of Delights" of wire mesh sculptures now at Mitchell Giddings Fine Arts is a testament to that skill.

Boyer, now a resident of Portland, Oregon, grew up in New York State a son of an art teacher who would challenge him to a game of taking five simple lines and turning them into something. Boyer said it was early training to learn forms out of randomness. Jumping ahead to his time in Windham County where he lived for 25 years he received on the job training as a blacksmith from the mid-'80s through the '90s. There he began experimenting with the wire mesh scraps from fireplace screens at the shop, finding the material to be tactile and immediate in the hand.

He uses the same techniques today as his blacksmith shop days, working with woven mesh of mild steel. His human figures are simply fabulous. Created freehand by combining not only his skill to make something out of nothing but a natural talent at replicating the human body, his sculptures appear as if they were actually molded around a human body. Boyer noted humorously that is is difficult to find a real model willing to pose for that.

Boyer wrote on Mitchell Giddings' web site, "My work in wire mesh is a result of over twenty years of fascination with a material I discovered quite by accident, searching for a medium that I could best express myself with. Working by hand with leftover scraps of material at a blacksmith shop I was employed in, I gradually came to know the incredible expressive power of a medium most people, artists included, had never even heard of. "

On first impression when walking through the exhibit, his pieces retain the see-through quality of mesh. This see-through quality provides multiple perspectives at different angles in several dimensions. One that stands out as solid, one of Boyer's earlier pieces, is a pivotal piece in Boyer's evolving style. It looks more like one expects to see from most sculptors, a partial torso fittingly named Posterior Balance. Because the posterior is solid with paint filling in the mesh, it hides the view of the open front of the torso. This solved the problem of the unnatural look of seams that Boyer found troubling. This piece led him into creating more figures, experimenting with more abstract pieces. He also started doing vessel kind of pieces, rearranging panels of mesh for new forms, an origami of mesh. It made sense to him to do simple shapes and make them abstract, but it took him years to think that it was a legitimate expression of art.

Boyer also does work on commission, creating a preconceived concept, his largest at Hilton Embassy Suite in Grapevine, Texas on a theme of lobster traps. He noted that the abstract work such as the vessels lends itself better to doing commission work in public places, while the nudes serve better as personal purchases to go into homes.

He prefers, however, to go into his studio and just explore, fabricating shapes of different sizes and forms, learning different ways to connect and adhere mesh, to get ideas from the material he is working with — to think outside the box. He said he needs to break his own rules to find something new and push his own parameters if it results in something he likes, such as using those troublesome seams as a composition technique.

The sculptures are painted in colors that Boyer feel work best for his creations — red, black, or bluish green patina. To create a patina he uses a copper primer and oxidizing paints to create the bluish-green hues. On one piece he repainted the seams with copper without adding the oxidizing agents for interesting lines throughout the piece and creating great contrast.

Boyer exhibits regularly in the Portland, Oregon area, so when Boyer had reached out to Jim Giddings and Petria Mitchell to congratulate them on opening their gallery, they asked him to bring his show to Brattleboro.

He said, "It's fun to be back, I hope to make it more of a regular thing."

Boyer had an Artist Talk on June 25 and the video of the talk, part of MGFA's video series "Mitchell Giddings Fine Arts Presents:" in collaboration with BCTV and Ames Hill Productions, will air on BCTV's local channel 8 Monday, July 23 at 8:30 p.m., as well as be available online starting July 23 on BCTV's web site, brattleborotv.org.

"Gardens of Delights" will be on view through July 30 at Mitchell Giddings Fine Arts, 183 Main St., Brattleboro. The gallery hours are Wednesday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information visit mitchellgiddingsfinearts.com or call 802-251-8290.

Cicely M. Eastman may be reached at 802-254-2311, ext, 261










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