By Wolf Schneider
Untitled, wood/found objects/acrylic, 36 x 8 x 8 by Joe Brubaker
His artwork sometimes looks like characters out of Ridley Scott’s futuristic movie “Blade Runner,” and sometimes like the historic Spanish Colonial santos of old Mexican churches. He’s fond of quoting photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson’s directive about seizing the decisive moment, and he considers himself as much a shaman as an artist. Most of all, sculptor Joe Brubaker, who specializes in figurative forms made of wood, metal, and found objects, says he is a happy man now that he’s doing exactly what he was meant to do.
“My art is exactly like my personality. I think the ultimate for any artist—musician, sculptor, painter—is that their work is authentic and part of the fabric of the person,” reasons Brubaker, an easygoing, upbeat guy who lives in San Rafael, CA.
If Mark Twain was right when he proposed, “Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination,” it would help explain how Brubaker can feel so connected to his unconventional figurative forms and at the same time so comfortable in his suburban lifestyle. Brubaker is open to all possibilities. His sculptures often seem to become inhabited by spirits as they take shape in his studio, and that’s just fine with him. “That’s an interesting and eerie part of the experience,” he comments. “It’s one of the joys of doing this figurative work. I call it the Gepetto effect sometimes. I’m carving this figure and this face, and there’s this tipping point where the face takes on a personality. I almost imagine myself as channeling some soul that’s out there and wants to come back. It’s really sometimes an eerie moment.”
Brubaker used to specialize in figurative forms made mainly of wood, but in the last few years he’s been incorporating more and more metal and found objects… -Featured in July 2007
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