Ron Simmer "What The Nose Knows"
Ron Simmer "What The Nose Knows", recycled aluminum and steel, fibreglass, reflective polycarbonate
It is fitting Ron Simmer is presenting this work at his initial Scupturewalk showing. The Burnaby-based artist has a nose for finding castoff materials from consumer society, and refiguring them into iconic works of art. There is an undertone of subversiveness in some of his work, but just as often there is humour. Always there is inventiveness and creativity.
That undercurrent of rebellion is apparent in his artist’s statement accompanying What The Nose Knows. He decries the “nosiness” of government and corporations for their relentless accumulation of data, and their reluctance to provide it freely to the individuals whose information it is. In light of the intrusive actions of spy agencies like the NSA and CSEC in their collection of metadata using highly questionable methods and rationale in doing so, it is a prescient comment.
The sculpture itself is simplistic, appealing and oversized. A large fibreglass nose sits between red-rimmed frames encasing two reflective polycarbonate circles. The viewer sees themselves and the surrounding view as they study the enormity of it and ponder the message.
Simmer has an impressive collection of sculptures created almost exclusively from discarded materials. Brightly coloured dogs (some urinating; again that undercurrent of subversiveness) are fashioned from gas cylinders, roadrunners are created from bicycle gears, propane tanks, old rakes, metal hose and colourful reclaimed steel pieces. He combines oddities like the blade of a lawnmower with a child’s trike, or a shovel blade with wheels and old garden shears to create fanciful, intriguing works. Always, they are stylish, sleek and in some cases, somewhat menacing (Attack Bug, Devil Pig, Shovel Bird).
“In some ways, my sculptures are a commentary on modern society, not only its inherent wastefulness but also the frightening direction it is taking. Counteracting that, I attempt to take people back to their childhood by creating large scale ‘toys’ and colourful birds and animals. I have been influenced over the years by the pop art movement, starting with Joan Miro, the influential Spanish surrealist painter and sculptor.”
Some of Simmer’s art is created to be an interactive physical experience and often incorporates optical illusions, as is evidenced by What The Nose Knows and other works like Infinite Mirror and Giant Cyborg Eyeball.
He is a member of the executive board of ReVision, the collective of Vancouver-area artists devoted to creating art from recycled materials. He has worked with fellow ReVision artists on a number of collaborative exhibitions and projects, two of which ultimately were part of the Burning Man festival in Nevada.
“Breaking Wave was a two ton collection of driftwood and ocean detritus (nearly 2000 pieces) modeled after and inspired by the classic Great Wave of Kanagawa by Japanese painter Hokusai. We re-constructed it on the playa at the festival, rigged it with lights and after three days we burned it,” says Simmer with great satisfaction. “The project was a memorial to the victims of the deadly tsunami that struck northern Japan in 2012. Now it is part of Burning Man history.”
Creative and multi-faceted, Simmer self-identifies as a ‘burner’ and figures he’ll spearhead another project for the festival before too long. “As an artist you can’t ever get complacent, and I certainly don’t intend to.”
Report courtesy Castlegar Sculpturewalk.