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The Art of Dick Siegel

When the pixels are on fire

by Laura Bien

From the October, 2007 issue

Legendary local folkie Dick Siegel stops before a head shot of a 1950s-era robot. Its bolts-for-ears, grille teeth, and raised arm provoke giggles. Siegel raises his own arm: "Hail!"

It's Marvelous Mike, a yellow robot-bulldozer combo that Siegel played with as a child — until it broke. "But then I found it on eBay!" says Siegel. "So I bought three!" — two of which are reverently arrayed on a cabinet in his home.

Siegel's show of twenty-seven large-scale computer-generated prints similarly evokes the past. He's been making images for a dozen years, and his love of creating art was already evident in the summer of his senior year in college, when his mom fretted that he should get a job while he happily drew geraniums. Siegel traces his love of the visual to his architect-designed childhood home: "As a kid, my earliest heroes were Picasso and Miró."

The vivid colors in those masters' works glow from Siegel's Green Arrows, Blue Traveler. Against a background of green flames snaking in from the edges floats a blue eyelike disc with a red "iris." "I think of it as a friendly traveler, a sort of strange environment," says Siegel.

Many works are manipulated images of antique toys pictured on 1950s-era bubble gum collector cards. One cartoonish blowup of the hood of a green Hudson so charmed a neighbor that she bought it on the spot.

Another two-part work shows a silver toy VW van (right). As with Marvelous Mike, Siegel placed it directly on his scanner. The resulting images show the toy in focus with its edges blurring into a black background. Suspended in darkness, the 1960s icon suggests a loss of innocence, with its wear and flaked paint.

Innocent fun pervades Jupiter C, an altered representation of a dad and son about to launch a model rocket. Against a mottled multicolored background, the purply-blue silhouette of dad, son, and rocket actually shows "the first ICBM missile," says Siegel.

...continued below...

"Father and son would bond over something grotesquely beautiful."

Like Siegel's other works, Jupiter C is mounted on a platform, so that the images seem to float into the room. "I think of [my works] as two-dimensional sculptures," says Siegel, "an object, not a flat image."

Flat images were all Siegel saw most of his life, after an injury in one eye led to cataracts. For years he could see only one-dimensional images, until an artificial lens restored his depth perception.

He remembers visiting Delhi Park afterward, mesmerized by some furrowed tree bark that "went in and out . . . in and out

. . ." and draws a parallel between the restoration of his sight and a rekindling of his "dormant, not new" interest in creating art. View the results at Art Search Satellite Space on Main Street from October 18 through November 29.

[Review published October 2007]     (end of article)


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