Vermont Arts Council

Balinese Buicks: On the Road to Enlightenment

San Francisco, Barcelona, Vermont, Bali, and Mali are all mentioned in Art Costa’s statement for this body of work. Costa merges the design of Balinese masks with the design of American Buicks. The result: wildly engaging 3-D masks with automotive references. Costa’s work will be exhibited in the Spotlight Gallery through August, 2014. Below is Costa’s Artist’s Statement

Balinese Buicks: On the Road to Enlightenment

While pursuing an art degree in the early 1970’s at California State University, I was very inspired by the story of Picasso’s exposure to African art and how the abstract nature of another culture’s vision opened new ways of seeing our Western experience. Picasso was still alive at that time, so he had a large presence in the eye of a young artist. Traveling in Spain in 1971, I spent a week in Barcelona exploring the 5-story Picasso museum, awestruck by his prolific works, from early academic drawings to his later abstract paintings and sculptures. I have carried his lessons throughout my career, looking to the “others” to find my own vision.

Art CostaIn the mid-1980s, while exhibiting at San Francisco State University, I came in contact with the author Judy Slattum, who wrote the definitive book on Balinese Masks. We corresponded regularly on the subject of the art of Bali. But, it wasn’t until I moved to Vermont in 1996 that the idea of merging Balinese art with American automobile design came into being. The Vermont Arts Council was funding many venues in the Brattleboro, VT area, so I applied for a grant to help me afford the time and materials to complete my “Balinese Buicks.”

My interest in Picasso’s work is ever present. My more recent work has moved back to African influence, inspired by the Dogon people of Mali. The abstract forms of their wooden spirit masks and sculptures are points of departure for my own experiments in cardboard. Where will Pablo take me next?