Artist Ivan Barnett is drawn to basic tools-shears, ball-peen hammers and drills-when he works with oxidized 28 gauge steel to create his unique garden sculptures.
“There’s no soldering or welding involved in my process,” explains Barnett, who exhibits approximately 16 sculptures in his new show “In the Garden & Beyond the Sky,” which opens on May 12 at Patina Gallery. “Iron rivets keep all the pieces together.”
Barnett, who is the creative director at Patina Gallery, has had only a few shows of his own work at the gallery during the past 18 years even though he started making sculptures for the garden 40 years ago.
“My first garden pieces started out very primitive and reflective of Pennsylvania German iconography: birds, tulips, roosters and horses,” Barnett explains. “This recent work combines abstract shapes with the representational, using only a handful of primary colors. The material used is the same material I have been using for close to a half century, which is thin-gauged steel that has been oxidized in the fields of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.”
Sculptures are born when Barnett selects pieces of metal cut out in various shapes-some abstract and some in the forms of stars, birds, deer and other critters-and arranges them like a collage. Although the completed works are painted black so the form, not the color, is dominant, each piece has some color it in.
“There’s a purity about having accents of color in the sculptures,” Barnett adds. “I also use color to create forms.”
Barnett is donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the sculptures to the Nature Conservancy in support of Santa Fe Canyon Preserve, a 525-acre parcel of open space close to Santa Fe’s historic Plaza that has a thriving bosque of cottonwood and willow trees, a pond, the ruins of an historic Victorian-era dam, hiking trails and more than 140 species of birds.
“The Canyon Preserve is one of the most enchanted parts of our entire City Different for me,” Barnett says. “I feel a personal commitment to preserving the natural world around Santa Fe.”