Maze of the Madrones
“… Light falls into the car, we stay for another 10 minutes, it is hot and hazy. I start the car and drive out of the city, the bright afternoon landscape starts appearing. I look towards the mountains, the grey and blue formations on the horizon, distant vanishing points. We are on the road, heading for Steve’s trailer on top of Foster Mountain. I think of the mountain at my fingertip on my 3D map of Mendicino County, the trees are a green avalanche flowing before my eyes. There are fewer and fewer houses. Images of sculptures appear to me, glittering golden ghosts, silent, weightless, raw. The road divides, I drive towards Hearst. I am in the map, under the magnifying glass on the road that winds up through the forest to the pass with the beaming stones and the clouds continuously casting shadows on the red slopes of the mine and the first gate. Visual disturbance carved in marble, zombies and mermaids, Heaven and the dusty Madrones, the mountain makes me happy, I feel the blood flickering in my hands after the trip.
In Jon Stahn’s sculptural practice the volatile and transcient are on par with the classical sculptor traditions. Fragmentary material such as fast food packaging and magazine clippings share the space with sculptures in bronze and marble, candlelight portraits and super-enlarged comic strips with found objects like sticks, plants and stones. Often the hierarchy is blurred completely between the found and fabricated and the space is populated by mysterious emblematic objects, references to art history and psychedelic images.
An important aspect of Jon Stahn’s Maze of the Madrones is the journey and the act of using the journey as a form of primary material to visual site-translation. An example is the landscape of California’s Northwestern Pacific coast, which often appears in his works as a place whose culture and history serve as a kind of prism from where many ideas are interpreted through. The title of the exhibition Maze of the Madrones also refers to a species of wood growing in symbiotic connection to the layer of mycelium, whose composition is unique to areas and to a place where Stahn has lived and worked over the last several years. These residencies have among others resulted in a collection of manifold objects, photographs and video recordings, some of which can be seen at the exhibition.