John Tinker "Cleveland Rocks"

John Tinker at Linda Durham Contemporary

I have loved John Tinkers work for years. The first time I saw it was back in the 1990s when a little brainpan shaped skullcap made out of something resembling persian lamb hung flush to a gallery wall and urged me into flights of object-free-association that led of course to Duchamp via Meret Oppenheim and other surrealist fancies. Ultimately the question of whether this hat-sculpture was something you could wear or just look at made it like a card game in the pre-stages, sibilant but not yet whispering. Tinker in the ensuing years has been still working (of course.) This exhibit has an object or two from 2003, then 2004, 2007, 2009. So it amounts to a sort of curated cavort that effectively catches me up.

John Tinker "Turning Japanese" 2003

John Tinker "Turning Japanese" 2003 hydrostone, painted mahogany 43.5"x14"x19"

The last time I made a studio visit to Tinker, probably 2004, birds hung on a wire, boding forms with a nonetheless playful air like props for foozball.  What has always been remarkable about Tinker is that the ideational urge for sculpture comes with an exquisite sense of making. Its like the best carpentry and joinery youve ever seen merged with a really witty idea, which in this latest incarnation I had to go think about a while. Take the chair stool above, called Turning Japanese, its seat a dollop of shaving cream or KoolWhip. I vote shaving cream.

Art that puffs always inquires of itself, what is it? It used to make me mad hearing that in his earliest art years Claes Oldenburg had his (first) wife sew his softies (nobody remembers her name). Tinker has definitely done his own fabricating. This show gives an aura-eye-full of it, a richness of 12 objects, with some title-riddles  that open into a more embodied vocabulary than Ive seen from this artist. Maybe its that beating heart with its neat inked rhythm. Ka-chong.  That steadies a sense of the precious with the urgent, the humdrum rendered fascinating.

John Tinker "Kumquat: Nagami" 2008.

John Tinker "Kumquat: Nagami" 2008. encaustic, various woods, epoxy resin 15.5 x 37 x 8.5 inches

The show title is Fruta Tecnica and Otra Delectica. Its the  -ica suffix that places the body of work somewhere between the hybrid dreams of the future and a real history of the past which I happen to know, for this artist, includes heart surgery. So the termitectica, really a very exquisite insect, groks to Cleveland Rocks! above, with the pattern of vibration and beating and the tirelessness of those proliferating bugs. White Wrung in polyester resin and glass, a bead of drip forming, captures the magical feminine that has been with Tinker since the skullcap. Yoni. It is as if measuring those long green leaves of the kumquat– and what color would you could call that precisely (the tailfeather of the maroon-fronted parrot?) — you are not sure whether to clap or dance. This work is still very cool but not so chill anymore. Its got a real lot of the intimacy of home in it (Nuts for Each Other, a bowl of them, fruit quietly nearby the mirrored broken exquisiteness of Personality Crisis.) I just loved this show. Lindas new space also rocks. Turn left at Backroad Pizza (or right if coming from St. Francis). Dont miss it. Through April 6.

(top photo: John Tinker, “Cleveland Rocks!” 2009. pigmented wood, vinyl. 13.5 x 8 x 6.75 inches)
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  1. Dick Carter says:

    Ellen… love this guys work…. not familiar with him but know Linda D from years ago when I showed in Santa Fe and have not seen her since early 90’s either. Maybe its time for a trip to SF.