Reliquaries: The Sculpture of Ted Waltz

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Oranges/Sardines was one of the most important galleries in DTLA a couple of decades ago. It was the first place I ever encountered the sculpture of Mineko Grimmer, for instance. Its owners were a pair of artists themselves, Ted Waltz and Carol Colin; both have continued to mature as artists in the years since the gallery closed up. It still remains present as a outlet, however, and its most recent iteration is the launching of an independent press. The first title is a quietly gorgeous book of photographs of Ted Waltz’s sculptures, which enjoin one of the most familiar objects in human society — the chair — with mixed-media assemblages, along with an introductory essay by William Benton, who is both a poet and an art critic.

While the book is available on Amazon, you can also order it directly from:

Oranges/Sardines Press
5400 Monte Vista
Los Angeles, CA 90042-3323

“The pieces are stoically themselves, recalcitrant in their particularity,” Benton ascertains slightly past the half-way point of his essay, and he doubles down in the next paragraph: “Things are unremittingly themselves and at the same time, potentially, their extensions as metaphor.” In a way that I hope would be regarded as a friendly amendment, I would disagree with Benton and say that the objects abutting each other in Waltz’s sculptures have enlisted themselves as representational instigations of our self-defined boundaries. They knew us before we knew them; that we subsequently linger as we move on is the surprising gift of Waltz’s sculptures. In addition, I would argue that the chairs themselves, in supporting Waltz’s mixed-media assemblages, are working as a Venn diagram: we ourselves, who are the usual occupants, are represented by a rendition of the images we carry inside us as we anticipate sitting down in a chair to await an incremental transport elsewhere.

While it would be best to see them in a full-sized room, the next best acquaintance is through this book, and I hope you can get a copy soon.

“The lack of recognition that most artists live and die with has, in Waltz’s work, the feel almost of a formal intention. In a way, the power of Waltz’s sculptures resides in the fact that they might just as well not have been made. …. Waltz, in that regard, works like a poet.”

Indeed. I could not sum it up much better, except to note that Waltz works like a lyrical poet of the displacement of absurdity: Things as they are / transmogrify upon the peculiar chair.