Professor TePaske, artist Peter Haines explore ‘the object’

By Joe Kourieh


Currently, the Mazmanian Art Gallery is home to the works of two artists who share a similar sensibility about their work. One is Framingham State’s own Derrick TePaske, chair of the communication arts department and a noted artist from the area working in a wide range of disciplines. The other is Peter Haines, another local artist invited by TePaske to take part in the exhibit.


Like TePaske, Haines has considerable artistic credentials, having been featured in solo exhibitions in four cities across the U.S., participated in more than 60 group shows, spoken at the International Sculpture Conference in China and being a founding member of the Boston Sculptors Gallery.


The core of his work, according to Haines’ written statement, is a “collection of simple, tool-like bronzes” created over a 30-year period, now totaling over 500 pieces. He said his individual sculpture style “favors geometry, the compound curve, negative space and clean silhouette.”


The theme of the exhibit, the artists said, came from their shared respect for “the object,” and the “meticulous craftsmanship” involved. Touching on a kind of “chicken or egg” concept of artistic expression, Haines said the ideas in his work follow, rather than precede, the physical objects created.


“The object is the idea,” said Haines.


The idea of objects is certainly prevalent when looking around the gallery, throughout which are placed over 75 individual objects of various shapes, sizes and levels of complexity, some grouped together, and others standing alone.


Some of Haines’ “often archetypal” forms depict stylized animals, as can be seen in an oblong sculpture, set against the gallery’s right wall and small enough to fit in one’s hand, consisting of two halves that meet and form the general body shape of boar or buffalo-like creature, made more recognizable by four short legs. Another similarly sized piece in the front left corner sports tall, thin ears, conjuring up an abstract image of a rabbit.


Haines also crafted the most eye-catching object in the exhibit – a towering, totem pole-esque piece called “Vulpine,” consisting of various shapes fused to a central bar, topped with a series of increasingly complex emblems attached end on end. This amalgam of objects and ideas stands taller than a person.


TePaske’s currently featured items were crafted through “woodturning,” or the working and shaping of wood while it moves, somewhat like throwing clay. TePaske described his affinity for the technique in his written statement, describing how it is “low tech and often literally dirty, employs common and tangible materials, and results in unique and very physical objects.


“All of the pieces here were turned from green wood,” he said, “in sizes and species which are not commercially available.”


While some of the pieces are as simple as a pot or vase, others are as elaborate as one of the gallery’s center pieces called the “Desperate Measures” series, which features wooden orbs penetrated through by industrial-sized bolts or spikes, or girdled by metal clamps, creating a set of Frankenstein monsters out of otherwise unassuming wooden objects.


Also on the more imaginative side is “Reliquary Furcula: A Shrine to Wishes” – a dark wooden box standing atop egg-shaped golden legs. Though this initially seems rather plain, a look through the box’s gold-trimmed top reveals a collection, magnified slightly by a glass lens, of tangled wishbones. The artist’s idea, it seems in this piece, is packaged comfortably within the object.


Of his and Haines’ hands-on approach to art, TePaske said, “Some of the pleasure is surely that it makes me feel connected with ancient artisans ... who routinely made useful things which were more carefully crafted and beautiful than they really needed to be.”


Haines said, “Our sensibilities are rooted in the archaic – made modern.”


Those interested in hearing more about these works or speaking to the artists are invited to attend the exhibit reception on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 4:30 in the gallery.

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