Added by Benevento Los Angeles
7578/ 7556 SUNSET BOULEVARD
LOS ANGELES, CA 90046
TEL +1 323 874 6400
FAX +1 323 874 6411
ORGANIZED BY ZAK KITNICK
WOLFGANG BREUER, MATTHEW BUCKINGHAM & JOACHIM KOESTER, WHITNEY CLAFLIN, MARTIN CREED, MELVIN EDWARDS, IDA EKBLAD, SAM FALLS, KENJI FUJITA, WADE GUYTON, ALLISON KATZ, RITA MCBRIDE, CHARLOTTE POSENENSKE, SAM PULITZER, HEATHER ROWE, GEDI SIBONY, MICHAEL E SMITH, ANICKA YI
EXHIBITION DATES: MAY 25- AUGUST 4, 2012
OPENING: FRIDAY, MAY 25, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
“I give people a 2000-year guarantee.” He smiles. “Just save your receipt.”
Jefferson Mack asks: “You know what chi is? It’s life force.”
“There’s a different word for it in every culture, in every language. You can take a piece of metal, and by working on it, you’re actually putting chi into it. And that’s what we do. We put chi into metal. Chi increases its interest and its value to people, and it humanizes the material so people can have a relationship with it. So my challenge is how do I get as much chi as possible into the material?”
With his lean frame, shock of silver hair and tortoise-rimmed glasses, Mack looks more like an architect than a blacksmith, and it’s clear within five minutes of conversation that he’s a builder, and a philosopher, at heart. “I’ve always built things,” he says. “I started doing carpentry when I was about 15, and I’ve built a lot of houses. I can finish a wall better than most drywallers.” And that’s just because it’s a process. I want to know how to do things the best way possible. I’m kind of obsessive that way.”
“Kind of” may be putting it lightly. Mack’s compulsion to put things together—to create—began in childhood, when his mother gave him nuts and bolts to play with. “I don’t think she was cheap or anything,” he says. “It wasn’t to save money on toys. She just saw my inherent need for analyzing process.”
Born in Vienna, Austria—where his father may or may not have been a secret agent—Mack grew up in western Pennsylvania, “in the same town where Jimmy Stewart was raised” (he says, in a spot-on Stewart drawl). After studying jewelry design and theater at Skidmore College in New York, he worked as a rock-and-roll lighting designer nationally, creating on-stage drama for the likes of the B-52s and Modern English.
His first professional job as a blacksmith was in a museum south of London, where his theater training came in surprisingly handy. “The deal was that I could work on the weekends and do my own stuff because they had to provide some activity in the shop for tourists to see” Mack says. But I had to put on an English accent, because Americans had spent all this money to come and see an English blacksmith. So I’d say “ ‘Ow’s yerself, and ‘ow’s ‘erself, and ooh lovely to see ya now.”
Eventually, like so many artists, seekers and rebels before him, he landed in San Francisco, where he lived on a boathouse in Sausalito and paid his rent by building houses. In 1990, he founded Jefferson Mack Metal.
Mack’s designs are, in many ways, the sum of his diverse experience. “I have a database in my brain—we all do – that cannot be duplicated by computer,” he explains. In Mack’s case, that database includes an innate sense of human nature and our desire to understand our surroundings – to understand how things work.
“When we can’t understand, we’re really uncomfortable. This is a problem that’s really exacerbated by the computer age because we’re over-technologized as a culture. We have to use computers 20 times a day whether we like it or not and most of us don’t really understand how they work. We’re dying for things that don’t have hidden circuitry. My work is honest work, done by hand. And it’s held together by something that makes sense.”
It’s a philosophy that belies the beauty of Mack’s work and the wonder it inspires. As he’s putting the mind at ease, he never fails to delight the eye. His hear