BC Gallery Space presents Robert Maki

The BC gallery has a new display, featuring Robert Maki, a sculptor for the past 50 years, pioneering the conceptual art scene since the mid-‘60s. Maki has served as a Rockefeller Artist-in-Residence at Wake Forest University and the North Carolina School of the Arts and held an Artist Residency at Humboldt State University. Maki is currently serving as the vice president of Wild Love Preserve, which strives to reintegrate native populations of wild horses to a natural habitat without the threat of helicopter roundups and holding pens funded by taxpayers.
Maki’s work extends across the mid to late ‘60s, which was a blossoming period in his career. As he puts it, “This was made in the mid-‘60s when conceptual art was happening. They delve into different things, like primitive architecture, or a void you could fall into.” His displayed works blend a certain surrealism with a refined geometric subject, striving to “[imply] a different kind of language. ”
“It builds off of a structural concept that I put together for myself that grew out of the work. It was a way of trying to find how to articulate concepts and it was also the beginning of a realization of having sculpture be just line and contrary to a minimal work that is meant to be reductive; mine is meant to be additive.”
The piece that became the poster child of the gallery is, at a glance, a simple piece. A flat plane that served as a background to a rectangular wooden block and a winding snake of wood flowing from the block like a river from a lake. The package was smooth; the wood, planar. The only curve, lateral, a river pressed against glass and set to display. The drawings and sculptures yell nothing, but whispers and hints were everywhere and it seemed that there must certainly be a secret the viewer was missing out on. This made many turn away in blank confusion, but the people that stayed found many questions. Unfortunately for many, answers never came.
Taryn Knopf, Bellevue College student and art enthusiast, said she walked away interested, but with no context the initial attention wore away. “I feel like, with art, if it’s so minimalist, it has to have a purpose. I would have liked to have heard him talk more.” Feny, also a BC student, agreed. “At least put a title or something. I’d like to know how he made it, the mental process.” But despite the lack of answers, the conceptualization was captivating to participants.
“It’s so smooth and polished,” Feny continued. “It’s cool when 2-D design can look like it’s folding and look 3-D. When I think that he made it in 1960-something, it looks really modern.”
Knopf believed, “he’s making a 2-D illusion, and it was fun to shade it in my mind and give it shape.”
From the artist’s description of his own art, the mixed reactions are to be expected. “You’re refining a concept, so you’re controlling more and more of the precision as you enter the research of it.” Maki believes the narrowing of dimensions opens the possible perspectives. “It deals with implying as much as you can, rather than stating it clearly, so that the viewer must interpret the art and that’s an important aspect because the art is considered experiential.”robert maki 1