Thursday, May 3, 2012

Danny Saathoff - Mixed Media

Mechanical Migration

I grew up around Minneapolis. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a Fine Arts Degree. After college, I moved to Colorado where I dropped out of the art making scene and really just lived to play (ski, backpack, whitewater kayak) for about eight years. I started a graphic design and sign shop to make enough money to keep up with my adventures. I ended up learning to sail on a resevoir at about 9000 feet up in the mountains, which was downhill from my house at 11,000 feet! I got so hooked on sailing that I decided to make a major life change and move back to the midwest where the is much more water. Since then, we've moved up to a good sized sailboat on Lake Superior where my wife, two boys and a dog spend most of our summer. 

Start to Finish
Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

Currently, I'm working on a large scale exterior sculpture that will be installed on a wall outside patient rooms at a local hospital. The wall is within 20 feet of the windows for these rooms and the current "view" is not very conducive for healing. I've been commissioned to build a piece that would provide an interesting visual experience/distraction that would also help promote a healing environment. This is by far, the largest piece I've ever constructed. There are just very few opportunities to build something 30 feet long and up to 12 feet tall.

My gallery work has been an evolution out of my work as a jewelry designer. My jewelry is bold and incorporates found objects but I can only go so big before the jewelry becomes unwearable. That's the point where jewelry becomes sculpture, although I don't really buy into the whole art vs. craft debate. Jewelry is traditionally viewed as a "craft" along with pottery, glass, woodworking etc. I think the lines between art and craft have been blurred so much that it's not really worth debating the topic. 

Cityscape Bracelet

"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?

My inspiration is all over the map. Sometimes politics creeps into my work, quite often nature is my inspiration and modes of transportation and the process of getting from point A to B often get my attention. I rarely look to make a statement through my work. More than anything, I like the work to lead the viewer to question what the work is about. It's like giving someone the first sentence of a short story and having them finish it. I enjoy putting things together and very often find meaning in the work long after a piece is complete.

Sometimes random objects just want to be near each other in a piece and finding ways to make them work together is what I do. Sometimes the meaning is the inspiration but often the meaning comes after the piece is done. I've even found the meaning to evolve as time passes and I've had time to live with a piece. I love to hear what other people interpret my work to be about and sometimes, their interpretations are far better than my original concept. As for a statement? That comes far later in my career with retrospection.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
After an eight year hiatus from making art or jewelry, "You should really start making jewelry again", courtesy of my wife, Kari Halker-Saathoff.

Watering Sand

Tell me about your work space and your creative process.
My work space right now is in limbo, not a good thing when I have a large commission in the works. Formerly, my studio was at my home in Robbinsdale. We bought that house for the 3 car, oversized garage that became the studio. My wife is also an artist as well as a high school art teacher so we shared that space. We just moved into a home in Edina with space to build our dream studio, but for now I'll be jammed into a single car garage stall and a basement studio space.

I often think I should have a studio in NE Minneapolis to be among peers and build relationships with other artists, but I really enjoy being close to my work and my workspace. I also have a family and being close to home really helps.

My creative process is really backward. For the artwork, most people would build the frame last, after the art has been finished. I build the frame first from whatever size wood I have on hand. My work evolves as it is created, I rarely know what the piece will look like when it's done so I need the structure of the frame to build from which is why that has to be first. After that, I scavenge for parts and pieces, I paint, draw, stain, bend wire, screw things together and go sailing to find inspiration. Sailing is a big part of our life and sometimes I think making art is a way to re-live some of the adventures we have sailing.


Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
I hate to admit this, but I really don't get out to see much work or many shows. Life has a way of filling my time. I think this goes back to having the studio at home where I love to be and not hearing through the grapevine about who's doing what and where. I'm no purist, but I think this helps keeps my work purely my own. 

I do work regularly with Merry Beck at Gallery 360 in Minneapolis.

I also have a number of friends in the Casket Arts Building so you might see me bumming around there.

Inner Space

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
I have a show opening Friday, April 13 at the Bloomington Art Center with an artist talk on Thursday 5/10 at 7:00 PM

It runs through May 18, 2012 with painter Jack Dale.

Danny Saathoff

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