“I like it when things are not so literal. I like the quality where you can look at something and fill in the blanks.”
Price range: $3,900 to $8,900
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Russ Vogt
Designed for indoor or outdoor display, the vividly colored ceramic sculptures by Russ Vogt – tall reed clusters, totems and mosaic-tiled animals – are a reflection of the artist himself. His pieces can be simultaneously mischievous, quiet and provocative while a secret sense of humor peeks through Vogt’s masterful sensitivity to color, light and form.
The components of the abstracted reeds and totem-style sculptures by Russ Vogt are playful large-scale extruded, wheel-thrown, and hand-built earthenware forms. These tube-like components, in intense color patches of saturated jewel tones, are stacked on an underlying steel pipe structure. The sculptures can be seen as individuals, configured as fences, clustered together or mounted on concrete walls. When imagining his work placed outdoors it is the interaction of his abstract sculptures against a natural landscape that particularly excites Russ Vogt.
A joyous love of colors distinguishes the work of Russ Vogt and this same playful nature is evident in another avenue of his talent: large, mosaic-tiled animals. Built on steel frames with concrete bodies under vividly colored ceramic coats, these life-sized or larger-than-life-sized animals include dogs, llamas, deer and horses. Russ Vogt even completed the commission of a life-sized elephant.
The parents of Russ Vogt grew up during the Depression and his grandparents were family farmers; this meant that Russ Vogt was raised not only with an appreciation of land and its natural forms but with the useful lessons of “making do” and “figuring things out.” Russ Vogt learned early to use tools to make and fix things and, today, having turned to sculpture after an MA in Painting, this mechanical prowess serves him well. It is necessary for Russ Vogt to fire the pieces in his ceramic sculptures far longer than with traditional indoor works, so they can be placed outside with the clay hard and vitreous enough not to absorb moisture. In Vogt’s totem works, the clay also must be heavy-duty enough to withstand the weight of stacking his various components.
The inventive colorations of each Russ Vogt sculpture are clearly arrived at emotionally instead of from strict observations of nature, whether flora or fauna. Russ Vogt overlays colors; he may even sprinkle dried flakes of glaze, from near-empty bottles, over his colors to, as he explains it: “make the surface more active.” For his mosaic works Russ Vogt creates clay flats roughly 5/16” thick by 8” x 10” that he fires then glazes before breaking each up with a hammer. Certain details (animals’ eyes, for instance) are created with specially designed tiles.
Imagination and execution unite in every Russ Vogt sculpture easily breathing perennial life into every surrounding in which they are set.