Totem like structures from found and recycled materials, sentinels, encrypted signage come upon a post-apocalyptic woods, a charged radiant icon whose purpose is unknown; the sparkly sugarcoating lending a lush desirous quality, a craving, product-lust of satisfaction, recycling upgraded to fine art.
— Steve Sas Schwartz

Click photos to see full depiction


The #imageunits are about repurposing and recycling, and stand as some sort of trophy of our culture of consuming and discarding. Ordinary and found materials -- driftwood, plastic packaging (blister packs), glitter, paint – are transformed into something profound, a way of taking the world we’re confronted with, acknowledging and shaping it into something else..

My point of entry was a fascination with friezes – relief sculptures decorating buildings -- plaques, and trophies, and how they hold their own space in the world of art.

The merging of driftwood and blister packs have a contemporary / historical conflation that is really compelling. Somehow the 

pieces feel both ancient and futuristic. Nature’s process of making driftwood over time, blended with form-molded plastics, alchemically conjoin to make something completely new. A bizarre totem, sentinel, encrypted signage come upon a post-apocalyptic woods. A charged radiant icon you have no idea it’s purpose. The sparkly sugarcoating lends a lush desirous quality, a craving, product-lust of satisfaction.

This approach has nudged a painter firmly in the arena of sculpture. The trout plaque / riffing on friezes - has morphed into something actually 3D. These sculptures are glistening totems unto themselves, sugarcoated manifestations of the divine.

From an email to a friend about the #image.units —

The planks are from the Glenbrook, Nevada pier that have been submerged in Lake Tahoe for a hundred years (c 1870’s).  They were part of a logging camp that supplied the wood to build virginia city during the silver rush heydays.  These pieces are somewhat about friezes, plaques, and trophies.

I always thought a frieze was both a half-assed painting and a half-assed sculpture, resting awkwardly somewhere in between. I’d been doing these blister pack paintings in the mid-2000’s (my ‘white paintings’) and using this plastic refuse as image units to create patterns and textures.  A few years later - 2015 -  this flood of abstraction burst forth.  I started using blister pack textured surfaces and slapping Malevich inspired geometric modernism over them, and plugging them in, literally, with power cords.  I’d been using large blister packs as a palette to hold paint as I painted. I turned one over and was blown away, and  thought,

that is exquisite painting, I need to use that.  Combined - the driftwood planks and the blister packs - have a contemporary / historical conflation that is really compelling.  The framed pieces in the series are 2oth century upgraded frames.

I was seeking to create some bizarre totem or sentinel or signage signal thing that if you came upon in some post-apocalyptic woods it would seem like a blend between something natural and technological, some charged electronic yet ancient, primal gizmo you discover but have no idea it’s purpose.

And the carmelized sugarized coating gives them this lush desirous quality, a built-in product lust - I wanted to make them desirable.  Somehow they are really speaking to people.

They are also a lot about repurposing and recycling and sort of a trophy of our culture of consuming / discarding.