This Friday’s Arbor Aid 2011 fundraiser will feature a variety of artwork for sale from over 40 local artists, but there’s one sculptor in particular whose work you’re going to feel like “salvaging.” David Calfo, an unboring Pittsburgh native, salvage artist and nature enthusiast, has contributed three sculptures, two of which are composed exclusively of materials reclaimed from the historic McBride Log House.
The theme of this year’s Arbor Aid – “The Vessel” – requires artists to use only salvaged wood in their pieces, but the timbers of the McBride House have a particularly interesting story to tell. A Steel City fixture for the last 158 years, Pittsburgh’s McBride House was a contender for the title of Oldest Log Structure in an American City before the last of three attempts by the Lawrenceville Historical Society to preserve it failed and its owner was forced to tear it down.
But the McBride House lives on in Dave’s sculptures, and judging by the striking ability demonstrated here, sculpture is the favorite medium of this artist, carpenter, activist and adventurist. Calfo used a variety of new shapes, polishes and perspectives to create the haunting, almost liquid pieces you see below:
- Soul Searcher ($1400) – From a dark McBride House beam, a figure coalesces, giving birth to itself. This figure is in flux – still rising, still molding itself from shadow and dream. Inchoate, on the edge of being and yet still one with its source, the Soul Searcher is captured in a moment of deep significance. It seems to say something ineffable about our ongoing struggle to shape an identity out of the darkness.
- The Seeker ($2,400) – Considered a follow up to Calfo’s “Lone Walker,” which sold at the “Art All Night” show earlier this year, “The Seeker” features a tendrilous human figure in mid-stride. Like “Soul Searcher,” this figure has lifted itself out of the darkness, but it’s more fully formed. Resembling pulled taffy more than it does solid wood, this avatar of humanity takes a single step forward, facing a future whose uncertainty is mirrored in the figure’s blank face. “The Seeker” isn’t concerned with our struggle to shape an identity. Instead, it seems to represent the experiences along life’s path that make us who we are.
- The Hunky Rail Gang ($4,000) – Calfo’s only non-McBride entry has a story of its own. The salvaged wood and steel used to create this sculpture comes from an old steel mill in Beaver Falls, PA whose railroad system was maintained by a group of mill workers called the “Hunky Rail Gang.” Calfo’s great grandfather, grandfather and uncles were members, and the piece serves as a tribute. From a section of track, four ties rise up and become something more: symmetrically arranged silhouettes of the stern-faced workers that helped build this country.
When is Arbor Aid 2011?
Friday, October 28, 2011 at 7pm
Where is it?
Guardian Storage in the Strip District
2839 Liberty Ave (map)
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
How much to save the trees?
$30 for general admission (9pm-12am)
$130 for Dinner in the Forest + cocktails (7pm)