ON THE NJ ART ROAD: MICHAEL MALPASS, SCULPTOR; EXHIBIT AT MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY By Calvin Schwartz 6-21-2016
If you follow my writings over the past few years, here, there and everywhere, a resilient theme is self-evident; the presence of synchronicity in my universe, largely made up of central Jersey exigencies and wanderings. I continue to marvel at the inter connectivity and smallness of that universe. So I have a story to relate; beginning with the innocence of asking a stranger to take a picture with me and a NJ Discover broadcast intern and cameraman at a soccer match.
It was last Saturday evening June 11th at Rutgers Sky Blue Field. One of those top ten days; warm temperature, a few wisps of cirrus clouds and a setting sun. New Jersey’s Sky Blue FC Women’s Professional Soccer versus Kansas City. I was a roaming photographer for the sold-out match as well as hanging out with broadcast interns and a field cameraman along the sidelines. For posterity, we needed something better than a selfie, so I randomly asked two women near the end of the team warm-ups to take our picture. One of the women, a theater and performing arts major was going to sing the National Anthem(Mackenzie Malpass). Her mother took the picture. In the paucity of time left before the anthem, but enough for the discovery and six degrees of separation process, I learned that the women’s husband’s father is Michael Malpass, a renowned sculptor who died way too young but left a wondrous body of work which is now being exhibited at Monmouth University’s Pollak Gallery coinciding with the showing of Monmouth University Communication student’s produced documentary film (under the direction Erin Fleming) “Michael Malpass-A Great Circle.”
Three days later, on Tuesday, replete with my journalistic instincts, I walked towards Pollak Gallery and noticed magical spherical (Malpass’ specialty) sculptures on the grass to my left. Walking on the grass, towards the sculptures, observing their artistic splendor, I was now frozen, staring, haunted by the intricacies and detail of his work; one cast in stark celestial red. The anticipation of the exhibit was peaking for me. Fortunately, they extended this exhibit until August 18th because of the demand/volume.
There is a wealth of information on Michael Malpass; let google walk you through it. My job here at NJ Discover is to share how his work emoted and elevated me; hyper sensitized my powers of introspection. It was quite an experience. Perhaps my arrival at 3 PM that afternoon, a gallery off hour, guaranteed my time of solitude and meaningful observation. I’ve been to the Pollak gallery often, sometimes in conjunction with special musical shows and lectures at Pollak Theater. There’s something about the stark white walls, displays, and frames contrasted by the art. For me, it’s a sense of sterility and eternity (art for the ages).
There were the Malpass’ sculptured spheres. He often said, “The sphere is the most perfect form. It is efficient, for example, with the most volume for the least surface area.” There were also his prints, collages and jewelry. I read that his art is a “revitalization.” For his welded spheres, now in front of me throughout the gallery, I saw that he used things that people discarded and changed them by recycling them into his mind and sculpture. For me, it evokes unique emotions in every piece. I can’t say/write it enough. This is so worth trips of many miles and minds to see in person. I marvel at great minds and creativity. I marvel at Michael Malpass.
I stopped in front of a sculpted sphere called ‘Squiggly.’ I day-dreamed that I was in the studio with him while he created it. We were laughing together. Then he got serious and ushered me away. I loved, ‘Traveler’ one of the most imaginative and perfect world of unions and coming together of formed pieces. It seemed so many stories were being told here; a perfection of function and form so simple yet intricate. He was traveling and encountering so many foreign objects but made them(welded) in a smooth statement. He must’ve traveled far and wide to bring the ‘ingredients’ together. More sculpted magic of Michael Malpass. With each exhibited piece, I imagined and wondered about his mind and thought process during inception. So many questions to ask him. It’s a rewarding feeling to leave an art exhibit with unrequited love of the works of the artist. Each piece told me a story. It’ll tell you all stories.
There was a magical collage, ‘Grass and Water.’ Of course I stared and tried to find ways to jump inside. It’s hard to explain visual emotions. The reality of a can of sardines, some money, olives and a local map; there’s a special frivolity here and a New Jersey breath of especially fresh air; Point Pleasant Beach on a receipt. And there is the ‘Chickenmen Gallery.’ I could go on here expressing, digressing, progressing but you have to see it for yourself; there’s plenty of time until August.
Perhaps now, I’ll share some background biographical information after all art is for the beholder.
“Michael Malpass-A Great Circle.” Trailer/You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIsGWMoUVdM
THIS COMING SATURDAY June 25th. A chance to see the documentary ‘Michael Malpass-A Great Circle’
Art Walk and Michael Malpass Film Screening
June 25, 2016 | 4:00 PM
This event will include a tour of the sculpture on campus including the new J. Seward Johnson pieces and the Michael Malpass Retrospective in Pollak Gallery. There will also be a screening of the new documentary about Michael Malpass titled “Michael Malpass – A Great Circle” created by Monmouth University Communication Students under the direction of Erin Fleming, Director of Production Services. The documentary will be screened in Wilson Auditorium at 4:00 PM and the guided tour immediately follow at 4:45.
Free and open to the public but RSVP required. To RSVP please call 732.263.5715
MICHAEL ALLEN MALPASS
Michael Malpass was one of the most respected sculptors of the 20th century. Monmouth University is having a retrospective of his work from March 8 – June 30. The opening is April l from 6-8 pm. His sculpture, prints, collages and jewelry will be on display. At the same time a documentary about his life will be shown.
Michael studied Fine Arts at Pratt Institute. His career commenced in 1977 when he had his first solo exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery on 57th Street in Manhattan. Just two years later Michael found his work on the cover of ART news Magazine.
He primarily explored the sphere using found metal objects. Applying traditional blacksmithing techniques, he literally manipulated tons of steel. The industrial shapes are composed of iron, steel, brass, bronze and copper that were forged and welded together to form the sphere.
Throughout the eighties his career flourished. He accelerated his creative efforts, broadened the scope of his sculpture and accepted increasingly challenging commissions, including those from General Electric, Exxon/Mobil, Trammel Crow Company, Benenson Developmental Corporation and TRW.
In 1987 Michael left his full-time position at Pratt Institute to concentrate full-time on his sculpture. This was a leap of faith since we were raising four children. He had many exhibitions and commissions in New Jersey including The Noyes Museum, The Paterson Museum, The Morris Museum, Ocean County College, Stockton College, Island Heights Cultural Center, The Educational Testing Service, New Jersey Institute of Technology, State of the Arts – NJ Television, Artworks/Trenton, James Yarosh Gallery (Holmdel), Laurel Tracey Gallery (Red Bank), Long Beach Island Foundation for the Arts, Grounds for Sculpture, Clifton Art Center & Rutgers University. The year before his death in 1991 he was working simultaneously on four different commissions from The State of New Jersey, The State of Connecticut, The Hechinger Collection & Exxon/Mobil.
Michael was a pioneer scraping pieces of metal and transforming them into art.
Cathleen Malpass firstname.lastname@example.org
The exhibit at Monmouth University of one of the most respected sculptors of the 20th century, Michael Malpass (1946 – 1991) taking place in the Pollak Gallery from March 8 through June 30, has been extended until August 18th due to the heavy volume of people attending the exhibit. Premiere screenings of a new documentary Michael Malpass – A Great Circle created by Monmouth University Communication students under the direction of Erin Fleming, director of Production Services, can be available on request.
The Pollak Gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. All gallery events are free and open to the public.
For more information about this exhibition and all Monmouth University Center for the Arts events visit www.monmouth.edu/arts or call 732.263.5715.
Kelly Barratt, Assistant Director, Center for the Arts